What I miss about the west

Note: This post title refers to the west as a whole, not just the west coast, where I was born.

I wish D.C. had unusual, eclectic coffee shops of character. The closest you’ll get is Starbucks, which I love but not for the atmosphere (aside from the hilarious baristas and the kind strangers who generously pay for my daily 5:30 a.m. cup of hazelnut coffee). There’s Teaism, but good Lord, I am not into tea. There’s no way I could function on tea, which actually makes me nauseous.

Oddly enough, it also brings back memories of elementary school, when my hippie 5th grade teacher made our class drink tea, listen to classical music, and read books (the fun part of course!). For a while, my best friend Crystal and I loved the tea, but more often than not, it was cold and bland, and we preferred hot chocolate our parents made from the stove.

Speaking of Miss Crystal, you guys must check out her blog, which chronicles her optometry school experiences. Not only is she an obscenely intelligent future eye doctor (I can’t wait to call her Doctor Thanos during our eventual Vegas trips Re: “The Hangover” Doctor You-Know-What), but she’s also gorgeous, funny, self-deprecating, hard working, and nice to everyone she meets. If she weren’t my good friend, I’d hate her for being perfect, but she has just about the sweetest disposition of anyone I’ve ever met, and I can’t think of a single person who would have a negative thing to say about her.

Anyway, go look at her articulate musings when you get a chance, especially if you like my complaining self-deprecating writing style. We need to make a third trip out to Vegas. When the desert heats up, perhaps we’ll consider venturing out there. Apparently, she’s doing an east coast adventure sometime this summer, so I’ll probably hitchhike up to New York City so we can wreak havoc up there. NYC is a much cooler place than DC in so many ways, no wonder my dad was an NYC cab driver for so many years.

My friend Scott visited from law school this weekend! I was lame and didn’t go out to the bars with him, but once the weather heats up, I’ll have much more incentive to leave my house. The DC metro is also incredibly lame to stop train service at 3 a.m. Any responsible transit system would run 24 hours a day, at least if the people in charge care about the safety of passengers. How is the nation’s capital so incompetent in so many ways?

Here’s the good news: It’s raining on Sunday rather than during the work week! I made friends in the laundry room today and ran 4 miles on the treadmill. Next week, my good college buddy Carolyn will be visiting from Arizona, so we’re pretty excited to embark upon our St. Patty’s Day outings. We’re low key kind of girls, but fun will be had nonetheless.

Anyway, I’m currently pining for more weirdness, of which this region of the country lacks to a depressing degree. There are too many chains in the city, and MEDIOCRE ones at that. I’m referring mostly to Au Bon Pain, which makes macaroni and cheese that may as well be mustard and pasta. There are no cute coffee shops to be found, so if you know of any, please, please, PLEASE let me know where I can locate these treasures.

I suppose I like Potbelly for sandwiches, but the vendor still has no character, unlike Erik’s Deli in northern California. Erik’s is a California chain, but it has an old school feel to it.

Speaking of northern California, my friend Scott and I got into a debate the other night about the differences between the two places we were each raised.

Scott grew up in North Mankato, Minnesota and I spent the majority of my life near Santa Cruz, California.

Scott told me a funny story about an overly emotional female high school classmate, who constantly ditched class due to the crumbling of short term relationships, skipped tests, never did homework, and was essentially the most useless human being to walk the grounds of his school.

One day, this girl approached her male teacher when he was in a particularly livid mood. She handed him her unfinished exam and said, “I haven’t been to class for two weeks because I’ve had some personal problems, so can I take this later?”

After months on end of dealing with this whiny drama queen’s excuses, the man snapped and unloaded. Upon ripping up her paper, he screamed, “You never learn ANYTHING!” and stormed out class. Naturally, the young lady cried, and all the students proceeded to cheat on the exam together because they were opportunists and knew they’d never get a chance like that again.

Upon laughing for a few minutes, I asked Scott, “So, did your teacher ever apologize to her for being out of line and losing his temper?”

“Oh Hell no. We don’t say sorry in North Mankato. We’re not softies by any means.”

I found this fascinating because if anything like that had ever happened in my northern California school, the teacher would have been immediately forced to say sorry, sit down with the student for a parent-teacher-counselor conference, issue a public apology in the school paper and to his class, and act in a more sensitive manner for the duration of the academic term. There probably would have been an assembly or something to address the “trauma,” too. He’d forever be known as the hothead, chauvinistic, sexist instructor. More than likely, this is the sort of thing that would get a man fired or he’d be tormented into resignation. That’s one of the aspects of California I don’t miss: The coddling and enabling. And we wonder how “emerging adulthood” came about.

Now, that isn’t to say this man handled himself in the most mature fashion. He should have at least addressed that he’d been mean.

The truth is, I’ve known plenty of nasty junior high and high school teachers who seemed to love belittling vulnerable bullied students, but these instructors are in a different category from their no-nonsense counterparts. Think of the teacher who blogged obscenities about her students, whom she described as “rat-like.” Her anger was just passive aggressive, catty, and borderline psychotic whereas the Minnesota teacher experienced a build up, which isn’t good, either.

In the end, we could all benefit from having thicker skin. I aim for this every day, even though past attempts haven’t always been successful.


5 thoughts on “What I miss about the west

  1. I apologize in advance for any grammatical or other errors; this is being sent via Droid.

    As for coffee, it does you little good now, but Murky Coffee near Eastern Market was great when I used to visit Capitol Hill. It has since, however, closed.

    Metro hours? There is a proposal to exasperate the issue you observe as the desire by WMATA is to, apparently, end service at midnight on weekends as well.

    And, finally, I was raised in North Dakota and take pride in sharing the same sort of bravado explained by your Mankato friend… lol

  2. As a fellow native-Californian in DC for the last few years, I have managed to find a few “unusual, eclectic coffee shops of character”… My favorites are Tryst in Adams Morgan, Bourbon Coffee in Foggy Bottom, Bolt and Jolt between Adams Morgan and Dupont, and even a few all over Eastern Market,

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