Kissed Goodbye My Inner-Lena Dunham

Leandra Medine. The voice, the human, the spirit animal that makes my commute more bearable everyday. She doesn’t know who I am, and good god even I don’t know who I am, but I think she is another version of me with better taste and skinnier legs… And an incredible life with clothes where a $150 dress is considered as a steal while to me that’s a month of utilities and two weeks of groceries but that’s nothing… Right?

So it is like I’m a plain, glazed donut while she is chestnut glazed donut with sprinkles from Doughnut Vault. My Chicago fellas, you know what I’m talking about right? Ha? Ha? No? Oh okay.

Going off of that analogy, I’d like it to be known that today is my second day of pastry-free diet and I already grabbed my phone twice to call my best friend to cry for a cupcake. Probably some of you are already inclined to close this window thinking, “ugh another girl giving into the bikini season scare” but HOLD ON FOR A SEC. This isn’t about bikinis my friends; this wasn’t a decision that roots back to my self-conscious nature. More than anything, this is about rejecting the new phenomenon “imperfect is the new perfect.”

So, all these years, there has been an evolving understanding about how perfect humans, the ones who “have it all”, are irrelevant to any progressive conversation because they just “want to comfort the societal norms by trying so hard”. I am a little embarrassed to admit that I was one of those people who kind of dismissed the Gwyneth Paltrow-y kind of people simply because they seemed so plastic, aka unrealistically good at this thing called “life”. Again,I am embarrassed.

So after two months into my D.C. experience, I realized that I can’t keep thinking those people aren’t real because as the matter of fact, they are real and technically speaking they run the world as they dominate Washington, D.C., the world’s capital.

So plot twist, I have decided to actually do something about this. My change started with more on the emotional side where I stopped being so feeling-repellent. Believe it or not, the stuff you see in the movies, you know the girl who is clumsy, skinny, cute but emotionally unavailable because of a tough break up? That girl doesn’t exist. I mean, yes she can exist, but in all reality she is just missing out on life and not giving herself what she deserves or basically needs. So I ask you, HOW CAN SELF-DESTRUCTION BE CUTE???

Leandra Medine, my guilty* woman crush, kind of plays with that idea in her podcast about self-sabotage. She even talks about the constant influx in a cycle and not moving any further because there is a certain comfort in being in the same area but also the pretentious movement which makes you think that you are on your way to somewhere.

This is true. Every time I find myself in a good situation, I psych myself out of it probably by the evil powers of my subconscious which signals my brain, “this is too good to be true, it is going to fall apart and you will lose control.” So, I deconstruct everything with my own hands because then I don’t have to feel like I am not in charge. So it is almost like I am thinking to myself, “if I am not trying, how can I fail?”

So when I find myself close to the bottom again, I pick everything up start eating right, doing yoga, going to bed early, emotionally and physically making myself more available… Until my next freak out.

As an outsider, you wouldn’t even notice the difference. There are certain areas that do not get effected by this constant change and that includes my work. However, more people sensitive stuff like relationships and etc. my suffer from my hamster wheel syndrome.

So this so-to-speak self-acceptance, which is supposed to enhance your life, becomes this crippling self-destructive thing which doesn’t let you grow as a person.

Ugh. I know. I just said that and I hate myself as much as you hate me right now, but given my point, it iiiiiiiiiissss trrrruuuuueeeee!

So this is my attempt of being perfectly honest with myself and reminding you all dear readers that you shouldn’t shame yourself for trying, striving and possibly failing. It’s fine. I’m not saying it’s perfectly okay to be a hot mess and lead the life of Hannah from Girls just because you know you can get away with it.

I mean, I could get away with eating 3 donuts a day and still somehow fit in my pants (that’s how I measure “getting away”) but that doesn’t mean I will continue doing it since I know it is harmful to my body.

Get it? Okay cool.

*guilty, because almost all of my other crushes are journalists and political beings.

Getting Grey Hair in a Trader Joe’s/Whole Foods Line

When I’m old and grey, spending way too much time thinking about the past, this one young human will ask me…

“What is one of your biggest regrets?”

I’ll look away with glassy eyes and say, “son, that’d be spending my half of my youth in the Trader Joe’s lines after work.”

It is true, especially on Tuesdays I find myself in a line that is longer than a food line at a music festival. For some reason I have this belief that people of Washington would want to go to their homes after a very long day at work, but so far, that theory has been proved wrong.

NYC is a city that doesn’t sleep, but neither does D.C. If anything, it just takes naps. What do I do in this place? Glad you asked.

Here is what my day looks like as an intern:

7:47 a.m. – First alarm goes off.

7:55 a.m. – Second alarm goes off.

8:01 a.m. – Third alarm goes off. I put my headphones in and blast Blondfire and check Twitter for news.

8:05 a.m. – Go to the kitchen to turn on the coffeemaker, nibble on grapes and decide on what to wear.

8:10 a.m. – Wonder why on earth I decided that it’d be a good idea to wear a skirt in 40-degree weather. Wait for the coffee to be ready.

8:15 a.m. – Throw everything in the purse, take screenshots of important articles so I can read them on the metro, brush teeth and put on makeup. Start walking to the metro around 8:18.

8:25 a.m. – Catch the metro from Crystal City stop.

8:40 a.m. – Get off at Penn Quarter and start walking back to Maryland Ave.

8:47 a.m. – Sit on a bench for a second to drink half of the coffee because there is no way I can walk rest of the way without some caffeine.

8:50 a.m. – Walk in to the LBJ building wondering why all these people wait to take off their laptops until last minute or why do they leave their badges in the bottom of their purses when it’s clear that they’ll need those every morning.

8:53 a.m. – Take the stairs up to the office.

8:55 a.m. – Rest on the third floor. Drink more coffee.

8:58 a.m. – Put down the coat and purse, try to log into the computer.

9:12 a.m. – After three failed attempts call the IT desk to unlock the laptop for you.

9:37 a.m. – Be on hold with IT.

9:44 a.m. – Check email, confirm every meeting invitation in the inbox.

10:15 a.m. – Get more coffee from the break room. Come back to a pile of papers that needs be looked through.

10:22 a.m. – Have a mild existential crisis while eating the packed lunch and looking through the messages from last night.

10:27 a.m. – Edit, edit, edit.

12:45 p.m. – Look away from the computer for a second and realize that I have 2 missed calls and a bizillion texts that are mostly about some funny meme on Twitter.

1:52 p.m. – Check the Post and BBC to see if anything exciting is going on.

2:01 p.m. – Check with Nancy whose office is right across from mine.

2:04 p.m. – Edit, edit, edit.

3:20 p.m. – Get mad at myself for eating the lunch early.

4:00 p.m. – Handle the stuff that fell under the category “duties as assigned.”

4:17 p.m. – Mingle with other interns. (Meaning I stop by at other interns’ office area to see what’s going on and talk about how much we hate the metro system in DC.)

4:35 p.m. – Walk to Penn Quarter to get more food. Probably get pastries from Paul.

4:50 p.m. – Edit, edit, edit.

5:55 p.m. – Start thinking about leaving.

6:00 p.m. – Start packing.

6:10 p.m. – Call Max on the way to the metro, which I usually take from Mt. Vernon Square, because I like walking.

6:45 p.m. – Lose track of time and space and end up Foggy Bottom/Georgetown area.

6:55 p.m. – Go to Whole Foods, get a pound of cookies.

7:20 p.m. – After finish eating the cookies, walk back to Mt. Vernon Square.

8:05 p.m. – Take the metro back home.

8:16 p.m. – Call Kaleigh or Alicia, tell them life sucks without them being there to help you with the cookies.

8:33 p.m. – Read the news.

9:00 p.m. – Shower, make brownies for the next morning.

9:47 p.m. – Eat half the brownies.

10:05 p.m. – Google “arteries and eating habits.”

10:17 p.m. – Work on the research paper.

11:20 p.m. – Have a fit about ESSA.

11:45 p.m. – Make lunch for tomorrow which is probably just Harissa, lettuce, and quinoa.

12:07 a.m. – Brush teeth. Check the news. Go to bed.

12:42 a.m. – Have a nightmare about not having a job, or not having anything to do.

12:56 a.m. – Have the second round of existential crisis.

1:14 a.m. – Go to kitchen to eat ice cream, but nibble on brownies instead.

1:45 a.m. – Brush teeth, check BBC for the last time. Go back to bed.

REPEAT.

God Bless Smartphones

There is an understanding that the internet is full of dangers and you need to stay away from it for various reasons. As a Hope College student, who lived and socialized in Holland, I can testify to that.

However, as a young professional (LOL, I hate that term) who is trying to survive and navigate through the big city of D.C., I’d say the internet is not a tool that will statistically kill you, but it is a necessity. So that, being said, I put together a list of apps that you might want to check out/definitely download.

1. Washington D.C. Mapway App

This is the metro app and it will do wonders when you are confused about where you need to transfer or get off. It is super-easy and you can use it when your phone is offline. If you have internet, you can also route your travel and see how long it might take. (link)

2. Uber

I promise you, you will be fine. This is the cheaper option to taking a cab unless it is 3 a.m. on a Saturday and you need to go from U-street to NoMa, then you’re better off with turning around a taxi. (link)

3. GrubHub

If you don’t have time or energy to go out or cook, this is your best bet. Depending on where you live, the app has some really good options, especially if you’re in the Adams Morgan or U-street area. However, don’t expect much if you’re in Virginia or Maryland as the suburbs don’t offer many delicious take out options other than average pizza. (link)

4. Tinder

Okay, before you lose it and say, “OH MY GOODNESS WHAT IS SHE SUGGESTING? I DON’T WANT TO GET KIDNAPPED,” let me reassure you that it is not what you expect. For all that I know, there are some people who download it to make friends or even just to find other people to go to Happy Hour with. When I asked around, a good majority of guys and girls just said that it is a lot easier and efficient to meet people this way. So it is not what it is for in Holland where people use it to “Netflix and chill.” Anywho, the app helped me understand how people dress and what they enjoy in this area. You’d be surprised how many high-up people (at DoD and such) put their frat-bro type pictures. It’s hilarious. (link)

5. Food Trucks

This app is a must to track the food trucks around the city and to see where they gather. Some trucks are not on here and in that case you can just follow them on twitter to see what their schedules look like.

6. Washington Post

Again, another essential. You should also make sure that the app is allowed to send notifications because to be honest there is no way you’ll go through the headlines during work time, so if anything, this way you can instantly be informed if something breaking happens which is pretty often especially with the election season going on. (link)

7. OPM

If it’s winter, you might want to check this app, especially when it rains and snows. (link)

8. OpenTable

Because every 20-something goes out here… even just to network. (link)

Living on a Prayer

You might be a Christian, Muslim, Jew, Atheist, or Hindu… Whatever you are, when you are desperate enough, you turn to one God (god?) to find hope; to ask for forgiveness and even for a sign that will keep you going. Sometimes you get an answer and sometimes you feel like your whispers have been lost in the void.

It is unpredictable and there is no way of knowing whether your prayers will be answered at the end. There is no way of knowing if everything will turn out okay.

So we just hope. And pray. There is something soothing about asking something from someone that you don’t know if it exists.

I am very familiar with that.

So, knowing that tomorrow is Sunday, I put together a prayer for my fellow Seniors.

Hope this makes the service you’re attending better.

The College Senior Prayer

Father, let us pray.
Give us hope, strength to follow you, health, and a job with an actual salary. Bless us with joy, good food, and transportation benefits. To our families, give the strength of a rock and patience of a monk as we go through these hard times of looking for entry-level jobs, Father. May our good friends be our guidance and keep us from making bad decisions like investing in terrible food. I ask for your forgiveness for my sins and my federal loans. In the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.

These are desperate times, my friends. These are the times that it gets more difficult to keep our heads over the sea level. Keep trying and have some faith. For those who took a huge step and swore not to move in with their parents, good for you. I’m right there with you.

Now, order a pizza and put up on your favorite TV show. Enjoy your time at Hope, because God knows you’ll miss it.

Stuff Every Introvert Should and Shouldn’t Have With Them

“But Idil, you’re not an introvert…”

Ssshhh, that’s beside the point.

Since I’ve been here in DC, I realized that my personality has changed. It is not good or bad, but it is just different. For some reason, I am just a more pleasant person in general; less aggressive, less impatient, but also less outgoing. This doesn’t mean that I stopped having random conversations with people on the street, because realistically I would never stop doing that, but I talk less. Granted, I’ve never been one of those girls who just screamed at the other one’s face saying, “OMG HIIIIIIIII I LOOOOOOVEEEE YOUR DRESSS YOU LOOK AMAZING HOW ARREEEE YOOOUUUU”

Let me clarify that I know how to use punctuation, it is just that those girls usually say all of that under one breath.

That being said, I have to admit that there are a lot of people like that in DC who seem like they majored in “social norms” in college… Which would put me in a “awkward relations” category, so I don’t know how I feel about that. Everything aside, one time I actually talked to a friend of a friend, then said to my friend, “did you just see that? I socialized!” Poor guy just smiled and took a sip from his drink, probably wondering what terrible thing he did to deserve my presence.
So after that very awkward, “I hope I’m not turning pale, Trump orange” kind of conversation, I put together a few items that could be an easy conversation starter or let you camouflage in that crowd. You are welcome, fellow introverts.

  1. Charger. Forget your charger. Leave it at home. It is a very common problem that every iPhone owner experiences everyday so let that be your conversation starter. Worst case scenario they don’t have it and you have to just comment on something that starts with, “OH by the way.” For example it’d be totally fair game to say, “oh by the way, I was totally ear-dropping earlier about your conversation on donuts and I agree with you.” Whoever they are talking to will probably say something back to you and you’ll just shoot back. There you go, you are in a social circle now.
  2. Pen. Ask for a pen or a pencil. Just make it look natural and say, “ugh, do you have a pen I can use really quick? I forgot to put down something on my calendar.” The chances, they probably won’t ask, but you can still mention what event or whatever it is you need to write down if it is appropriate for the environment. For example if you are among hipsters, you can say, “yeah just the date for the Editors concert,” and people will immediately start asking questions.
  3. Book. DC is swarming with intellectuals. A fellow bookworm will probably approach you and ask what you are reading. Upside is, you can immediately connect. Downside is, your reading will be interrupted. I don’t like it when people do it to me… I usually just hiss at them.
  4. Data. AHHHH. This one is tricky. So you can totally pretend like you don’t have data and have someone look up something for you but that might also lead to a “can’t believe you are spending my data right now” kind of anger. Don’t use this one unless you are very desperate.
  5. Tissue. You might be sick or might have spilled something on you. Ask for a tissue. If you are sick, blame it on the weather or allergies. If you spilled something, talk about your lunch. I’ve never done this before, but I have witnessed it put into use. What can I say, some introverts have social tendencies I guess.

“…If This Happened in Michigan, We’d Still Go to Lab”

We did it.

We survived Jonas 2016, the snowstorm that shut down the government and had Obama’s motorcade slip and hit the curb.

God knows mother nature is more powerful than the Russian government, and we’re still ignoring her like she’s a whiny cat in a corner.

ANYWAY.

So I went to the Whole Foods in Foggy Bottom on Thursday night after work and our weekly meeting at Crystal City; everything was gone. I kid you not the place looked like the lights were about to start flickering and that I was about to run into a frantic dad who is there to get his zombie-bit kid some medication. It was insanity. I was on the phone with my best friend, who’s back in Michigan, and we were laughing on the phone how Washingtonians are pansies. Seriously, if that happened at Hope I’d probably get an email from Dr. Dandavati to suck it up and show up to class fully prepared for the quiz.

Hope clearly doesn’t only prepare you for life, but it also toughens you up for extreme weather conditions, kids. Show me another school that can do that. Except for schools in Alaska, that one also gets you immune-d for an interesting governor. Seriously though, have you seen the SNL clip? It’s hilarious, watch here.

Next morning, which we have the day off for the policy interviews anyway, the government shutdown and the appointments got cancelled. My parents, who are very freaked out by all the media comments, called me to ask if I have enough food. I laughed and said, “yes, dad, I just dropped $40 on survival food if that’s what you are wondering.” In that panic moment, where all the pasta and toilet paper is gone (even though bodily functions remain their speed through the storm), the default feature in your body kicks in. Your eye only catches on the stuff that you know your body won’r function without. Guess what my eyes caught…

Bags of popcorn, two pounds of cookies, pistachio gelato, apples, bottled water, beverage of some kind, more boxed cookies, chocolate cake stuff, chocolate frosting, cereal, almond milk, more cereal, and of course, pie.

I should not be on anyone’s apocalypse roster.

That being said, learning from my mistakes, I made legitimate list that you can use in case you find yourself in my shoes, aka, trapped in the apartment for more than 48 hours straight.

  1. Cereal: Make sure it is not one of those super sugary ones.
  2. Bananas and apples: good snacks and won’t go bad even if the power goes out
  3. Nuts: again, good snack material
  4. Coffee: If the power doesn’t go out, you will need this, babe. The worst thing that can happen is experiencing withdrawal when you are trapped between four walls.
  5. Canned food, like soup: Especially lentil will help you with protein.

Not much of a help? Go on here:

Looking a lot like your college diet ?

Well, I don’t know what to tell you… College is kind of about survival, too.

Don’t Look Now… But I Think That’s a Libertarian

D.C. is not like your average college campus where there is a 50/50 divide in the political sphere…

Well, or like Hope College, where a good majority is made of conservatives.

This place is swarming with progressive thinkers; which may imply that it is dominated by liberals, but that is not the case. There are many intellectuals coming from various backgrounds, defending opposite stances on different platforms. In many ways it is like a chess game, but for me, it has been more of a playground where I am just hanging out while binge-listening to Mott the Hoople or The Doors. After all, I am the new kid in town, so it is perfectly okay that I was half-an-hour late to a date… Right? No? Oh…

Granted, I have this amazing gift of not taking the right turns and not being able to say the right things. For example, as a normal human would apologize for being late and blame it on the public transportation, I, on the other hand chose saying, “I’m an idiot with no sense of direction. I took a left instead of right and kept going until I hit the White House.” WHO says that?!

So, after numerous attempts to be graceful, I put together a “for the love of all things… Just, don’t” list for you, so you, dear reader, don’t have to make a complete idiot out of yourself.

Here is the top 5 of the list:

1. DON’T gush over yours or someone else’s job.

Not that I ever praised my job (I’m an intern, let’s not forget that) but in all honestly I hate it when other interns do that. Seriously, you probably do research, fact-checking, briefing and stuff; what could make your daily tasks so cool? If you are on the Hill, you are probably answering the phone. Some people in this town are actually doing awesome things like breaking news or putting together a legislation. Doesn’t mean you should totally lose your cool in the middle of a restaurant and say, “what do you mean you were talking to Biden the other day” in a very, very loud tone. Not that it will turn heads out of curiosity, but you will get mean stares from ladies with pearls for being loud. They will also wonder, like you’ve been wondering this whole time, what you are doing at that two-Michelin star restaurant. I mean, you don’t even have a Birkin bag, just saying.

2. DON’T assume anything.

Work, romantic stuff, political stance, where you are going to meet someone… Don’t assume or jump to conclusions. For work, if you are not sure what your boss wants from you, have them break it down for you just so you don’t have to lose time working on this ONE draft while all along all they wanted was a memo.

If you are seeing someone, be clear on where you stand. Just because you are or aren’t casually dating other people doesn’t mean they are doing the same. Also, during my time here, I’ve run into the weirdest combos. Like a libertarian working for a liberal place or a liberal working for a conservative member’s office… Never treat someone like a Discovery Chanel reporter who just came across a rare species. It’s rude. Not to mention, please clarify where, how, and for what you are meeting a person.

In the metro and at the metro mean different things and you don’t want to keep someone waiting for you out in the cold for 10 minutes just because you decided to wait inside. Plus just because you are meeting a person on a Sunday morning does not mean it will be just coffee, clarify where that place is and if it is more of a brunch kind of thing. When in doubt, don’t wear NB shoes, wear flats or moccasins.

3. DON’T ask someone “which” company they work for.

Most of those places are contractors for different agencies. If they pretend that they never heard your question, then  just move on rather than pressuring them more with, “… hahah that’s a funny story. But, um, so what company do you actually work for?” It’s usually better if you just don’t know.

4. DON’T think you have plenty of time.

One of the things I discovered very shortly after I started working at the department is that the metro is never going to be your best friend and that lunch breaks are really not that long. Technically you get an hour of break everyday, but then again if your boss is in their room attending a meeting, just stay chained to your desk until they are done in there. If the meeting gets out, your boss needs something from you, and if you are gone for whatever reason, you lose brownie points. I’ve been doing pretty well until this point so we’ll see if I can keep timing my bodily needs according to the meeting schedule.

5. If you can’t hear something DON’T nod and smile.

The chances that they are asking you where you work or if you hate Washington yet and you don’t want to nod to either of those. Keep your receptors ON. Especially if you don’t want people to think that you’re a complete idiot. Also, not to mention, you should probably attentive to the conversation anyway but please DON’T ear drop in other people’s dialogues, especially if you can’t keep a poker face. One time I heard something I shouldn’t have and I almost burst my drink out of my nose. It was a very unpleasant feeling. It was also very explanatory to the person who asked me if I would consider becoming a politician… I clearly am terrible at keeping a poker face and lying, so I should probably only work for the politicians, since I am as loyal as a puppy too.