Save one for the morning

Certain phrases and myths stay with you forever. When I worked at a movie theater in high school, my dad warned me not to eat too much popcorn on the job.

“Are you worried I’ll gain weight?” I said, glancing down at my size zero Abercrombie and Fitch Boyfriend jeans.

“No, but cernals can bring on appendicitis,” he said.

Though I question this theory, the possibility of writhing on the floor with appendicitis surfaces whenever I buy cinema popcorn. There’s nothing I fear more than appendicitis, as I’ve heard it’s more painful than childbirth and deadly if attended to at the wrong time.

I keep this in mind every time I step into a theater, my nostrils flooded with the smell of butter (or partially hydrogenated soybean oil, to be exact).  Though tempted by the salty snack on each trip, I almost always remember my father’s remarks and decide against purchasing the treat.

This is one of the few things I’ve never forgotten over the years. Another piece of advice is alcohol-related. One night last summer, my roommate Anna and I got tipsy at a bar. When my face becomes numb, I know I’ve had too much to drink. At 10:00 p.m., I reached that point and said carbs would sober me up and soak up all the cranberry vodkas in my stomach.

“Nope, the poison is already in your bloodstream,” Anna said. “Food will do nothing to change that.”

Whenever I go out with friends, I remember what Anna told me. Eat heartily before bar hopping, not immediately after. No one wants to see projectile Shake Shack on the metro ride home (you’re the best, Joey!)

Most recently, my colleague Matt Lewis (also known as The Daily Caller’s resident professor) said something that will surely stick with me for the rest of my life. A few weeks ago, I confessed to falling short on punchy, creative story ideas and articles. For writers, inspiration dry spells are major downers. I work regardless of inspiration, but my greatest stories are products of passion and interest.

That’s why Matt Lewis advises going home with at least one idea for the following work day.

“If you’re stumped, always save one of your ideas for the next day,” he said.

I’ll live by this guideline whenever possible, and luckily some of my best ideas spring up on me in the afternoon, so I’ll have something to work with the next day.

Last night, I arrived back in D.C., where it’s gloomy and ugly! I even miss the summer humidity, which went away about a week ago. Most of all, I miss the California dry heat.

During my final days at home, I went to Peets Coffee and Coffee Cat to taste something other than Starbucks:

Hot chocolate
Iced mocha from Peets Coffee

Though I often complain that D.C. could benefit from non-chain coffee shops, my friends have recommended some cafes with great vibes and character:

1. Kramerbooks – Located in the heart of DuPont Circle, Kramerbooks is a nice break from the stifling political atmosphere of D.C. You can purchases books, meals, and of course coffee, but won’t have wifi access. My buddy Vishal says the lack of Internet availability enables him to catch up on his reading, so Kramerbooks is perfect for that.

2. Ebenezers – My friend Aubrey suggested this Capitol Hill coffeehouse, which offers fair trade products. I’ll be sure to explore the shop in the coming weeks, when the weather cools down and I’ll be in search of a hot chocolate.

3. Busboys & Poets – To be fair, this is more a restaurant than coffeehouse, but I enjoy the environment, books, bar area, and food. It hosts lots of book signings and is a good spot to meet authors.

4. Baked & Wired – This is first and foremost a cupcake store (and the best one in all of D.C. – including over-crowded Georgetown Cupcake – at that), but a soothing place to sit down with coffee, go online, read, and interact with those around you. They sell coffee and have free wifi, so that’s a plus. You just have to get there early enough to snag a seat by a wall plug if you anticipate losing computer battery power.

This morning, my Boston nana called the office number to check in on me. I was pleasantly surprised to hear from her. For years, we’ve exchanged several letters a month, so she was concerned not to receive anything from me last week. I explained that I’ve been traveling and getting situated in my new apartment, but felt guilty for blowing her off. I’m hoping to make it up to her by going up to Boston for Thanksgiving in two months.

That’s another update: I won’t be going back to California for that holiday. I mean, I was just home, and airfares are so pricey these days. Plus, I’d like to score a week-long vacation for Christmas, so I’ll have to sacrifice Thanksgiving flying time in that case. This will be the first Thanksgiving I spend away from my mother and one of the first I go through without my brother Kevin, who has cooked the entire feast himself for us the past few years. I’ll send good wishes to everyone in California and return the following month for an even better celebration.

If you checked out my last blog post on memory lane and sorting through old journals, you’re aware that I was a pretty goofy child. Along with reading bizarre 4th grade diary entries about Furbies, rotten classmates, and fair-weather friends, I found a compilation of kudos that Ms. Hancock made her students write back in 1997.

We had to come up with a compliment for each classmate, so when Ms. Hancock was done collecting our warm fuzzies, she handed us each a sheet of paper filled with the nice things people said about us. Among the kind words said about me were:

“I think your funny.”

“I think you’re nice and funny when you play with Crystal T.”

“I like you because you’re smart and don’t talk.”

“I’m grateful for myself because I’m funny with my pens” (I wrote this and have no clue what it’s supposed to mean).

“I admire her Math skills” (Before turning this in to the instructor, Crystal showed it to me and we laughed together. Because we were good friends, Crystal and I had an agreement. She sometimes let me copy her times tables answers and division solutions if I stayed quiet in class. Of all the people in my life, Crystal knows most how awful at Math I am and always have been. In this four-line sentence, she was being facetious).

“You make me laugh all the time and have the best stories.”

Fourteen years later, I received more positive feedback at work. This afternoon, Vince the homepage editor said much of the office missed me during my vacation. Though flattered, my first instinct was to ask, “why?”

I haven’t been in the highest spirits lately. You hear that from me often, but I’ve been especially morose lately because I’m concerned about the upcoming election, approaching winter season, and year ahead. I still miss the summer 2011 interns, all of whom cracked me up every ten minutes, got me out of the office, and fostered my young spirit. I’m hoping the next twelve months are much easier than my first full year in D.C. Luckily I have lots of friends in the area, so I’m counting on them to pull me out of my hibernation mode should I barricade myself in my room to stay out of the cold. They’ll keep my social life afloat, at least on weekends.

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