The Beat of the City Arrives: Washington, D.C. – Day Two – Georgetown

The beat of the city arrives…

Ambulance sirens race down the street.

The pitter-patter, clomp-clomp of busy and important steps hitting the pavement.

Street musicians showcase their talents, providing a harmony for the chaos.

-Luke A. Bunker

I was compelled to write the above poem after exiting the Foggy Bottom-GWU Metro Station, hyper-sensitive to the sights and sounds around me.  There was a slight chill to the air, with sirens racing down the street and an older male musician pounding away at his keyboard as if it was his true calling in life.  As I alluded to in a previous post, I hopped on the Metro last Friday morning with no set itinerary for the day (perhaps the aforementioned hypersensitivity was due to a mind not clogged by schedules and “things to do”?), save for lunch with my aunt on the Hill sometime in the afternoon.  Aside from that, the day was mine, and I knew about halfway through my Metro ride where I would begin.

Cupcakes for life • Baked & Wired in Georgetown provides a more quirky cupcake experience than most cupcakeries (is that a word now??) in the city.

“Texas Sheetcake” • Cupcakes for life:  Baked & Wired in Georgetown provides a more quirky and intimate experience than most cupcakeries (is that a word now??) in the city.

When I was last in D.C. in August 2013, my cousin and I spent a morning similar to how I spent it last Friday – exit GWU Metro and make the short walk to Baked & Wired in Georgetown while admiring the beautiful homes and architecture.  Although the activities were similar, the journey was different.  As I settled in with my ham & gruyere quiche and iced mocha, I reflected on the pages of my Moleskine of how taking a different path with a receptive mind left me further open to experiencing the truth of life in Washington, D.C.

"Seek Truth and Pursue It Steadily" • This quote, on GWU's campus, helped put me in an open mindset, receptive to the familiar, yet unfamiliar, world around me.

“Seek Truth and Pursue It Steadily” • This quote, on GWU’s campus, helped put me in an open mindset, receptive to the familiar, yet unfamiliar, world around me.

I opted for savory instead of sweet...  Well, kind of.  You can't beat the beautiful combination of chocolate and coffee!

I opted for savory instead of sweet… Well, kind of. You can’t beat the beautiful combination of chocolate and coffee!

For, you see, on this particular morning, I took a perhaps less glamorous journey to Georgetown.  Instead of walking Pennsylvania, I took K and the Whitehurst Freeway.  I say less glamorous because it was on this walk where it struck me that there is absolutely nothing romantic about homelessness.  I don’t know if “romantic” is the right word, but when you can see (and, in reality, smell) the situation, you realize that it’s a real problem – not always a choice for those people – and one that we prefer to ignore than do anything about.

As I picked “pesky” down feathers from my $200 jacket while toting around $1000 in camera equipment and preparing to spend $10 on coffee and a small slice of quiche, having traveled via air to a city for the sole purpose of visiting a travel show, I’d be lying if I said I didn’t feel even just a twinge of guilt.  But, at the same time as I saw the inequities of society (how had these people gotten to this place?  what events had transpired in their lives where a shopping cart full of cans, no showers for days or weeks, and despair evident on their faces, was the life these people now led?), the presence of blessings in my own life became abundantly clear.  Sometimes it takes seeing this aspect of humanity – one that is largely ignored and is surrounded by a gargantuan taboo – to realize gratitude for how well a person does, indeed, have it.

A portion of the "Baked Wall" at Baked & Wired in Georgetown.

A portion of the “Baked Wall” at Baked & Wired in Georgetown.

With this newfound perspective fresh in my mind, I posted my poem on the Baked Wall (a wall where patrons’ doodles, writings and thoughts are drawn onto napkins and taped) and set out on a photo journey with my Hipstamatic and architecture, along with capturing a not-often-seen Washington, in my sights.

Look twice - that's a statue of a dog with a tie around it's neck!  Too funny.

Look twice – that’s a statue of a dog with a tie around it’s neck! Too funny.

IMG_3099

Rose Park Playground:  Rose Park is sandwiched between the back of Georgetown and the overhang of Rock Creek Parkway.  It is here where I saw a part of D.C. life I'd previously not seen - the normal day-to-day life of nannies with young ones swinging and playing the morning away...

Rose Park Playground: Rose Park is sandwiched between the back of Georgetown and the overhang above Rock Creek Parkway. It is here where I saw a part of D.C. life I’d previously not seen – the normal day-to-day life of nannies with young ones swinging and playing the morning away…

Sharing is Caring

“Sharing is Caring”

"Canal Bike" • Green is my favorite color, so between that and the composition, I had to take this photo.

“Canal Bike” • Green is my favorite color, so between that and the composition, I had to take this photo.

Has Hell frozen over?  Well, maybe not...but the C&O Canal has.

Has Hell frozen over? Well, maybe not…but the C&O Canal had a thin layer of ice on the morning I walked by.

"Woman in Red" • This is one of my favorite little streets to photography.  The building fronts, the American flag, the always-interesting people, and the canalside brick sidewalk are just too lovely to pass up.

“Woman in Red” • This is one of my favorite little streets to photograph. The building fronts, the American flag, the always-interesting people, and the canalside brick sidewalk are just too lovely to pass up.

"Brick, Shutters & Iron Fences, Oh My!"

“Brick, Shutters & Iron Fences, Oh My!”

"Rose Park Walker"

“Rose Park Walker”

"Rose Park Robin"

“Rose Park Robin”

Stay tuned for more from my recent trip to Washington, D.C., including more pictures from my first day of the Capitol and Supreme Court buildings, as well as my fun museum mix-up!

31-Day Blog Challenge: Why Do I Blog?

Day 31/31 – My final post of the 31-Day Blog Challenge!!

Well, it’s the 31st and final post of this month’s blog challenge – I honestly can’t believe I stuck with it!  Usually, by day, I don’t know, two, I would have already fizzled out and moved on to something else.  I’ve learned a lot about myself throughout this process and found myself getting exciting most days to sit at my computer and write for you all.  (I’m sure you could all tell the days I wasn’t excited!)

It’s interesting to me how I started this blog largely with the idea of it being a travel blog, but that it has turned into more of a philosophical one and I have posted, to date, like 3% about travel.  But, that’s OK!  This year is already shaping up to be another full of travel, so I have plenty of opportunity to mend that.  🙂

Why I blog:

  • To self-reflect.  Writing is therapy for me, and it’s how I best communicate.  Sometimes I can’t verbalize out loud the words I want to say, so my blog is my opportunity to do that.
  • To help others.  My friend and fellow blogger, Laura, encouraged me to write from the perspective that something I write could help someone out there who may be going through something, and stumbling across a post on my blog could impact them in a way I may never comprehend or know about.  When I share deeply personal experiences or moments from my life, this is for those people.
  • To inspire.  What if a post I write about a gorgeous lake cruise in Switzerland or the most delectable, to-live-for crepe in the world inspires someone to travel?  What if a review I post compels someone to pick up a book and read?  What if a recipe encourages someone to cook and eat healthier?  What if a tip I post helps turn someone’s life around or help them with a struggle?  What if a story or quote I post just makes someone, you know, just think?
  • To memorialize.  As I get older, my memory isn’t so great because I just keep putting stuff up there and can’t ever stop thinking and analyzing!  As such, this blog is my place to write down and permanently memorialize my thoughts, writings and photos.

If I have done all of the above, then I have succeeded.

Thanks to my ever-so-faithful followers and new readers for your likes, comments and reads throughout this month!  I printed out a a whole bunch of challenges and hope to cobble some of them together to keep this blog up and going when my “normal” inspirations and ramblings don’t quite cut it.  As I focus more time and energy on my art and passions – writing and photography, food and travel, to name just a few – I am eager and excited to share those developments with you.

Have a great weekend, everyone!

31-Day Blog Challenge: Dream Job (Or, A Business Manifesto)

Day 23/31

Well, as some of you may notice, I didn’t post yesterday – eek!  I decided I’d sleep instead.  And, after the day I had (I think it was a bad week for everyone??), I’m glad I did! Now, dream job…  We’ve all been there.  We’ve daydreamed (while at our current jobs) about what we would rather be doing, where we’d rather be doing it, and the gobs and gobs of money we would make.  It’s interesting how, after different life experiences and experiences in our everyday work life, our “dream job” doesn’t become as cut-and-dry as “travel writer and photographer,” “hotelier/restaurateur” or “magazine editor” (three of my dream jobs), but instead they graft into what might be better considered as an “ideal job,” with very specific details and requests:

  • A job where employees:
    • take ownership of their tasks and areas of expertise,
    • don’t pass their work off onto others because they are happy and proud to do what they do,
    • are passionate about working for and improving the company,
    • have vision and are excited to work both as a team and as individuals to accomplish a common goal,
    • are infectiously positive, optimistic and are respectful in attitudes and actions towards fellow employees, and
    • are talented, skilled and great at what the do.
    • Bottom line:  employees who can’t practice the above (or are incompetent in general) would just not be around.
  • A job that:
    • fairly rewards and compensates employees according to level of effort, successes throughout the year, and what they’ve truly contributed to the company (whether that’s good or bad),
    • provides a calming environment for elimination of extraneous distractions (I wish I had a quiet space where I could eliminate other distractions easily – whether it be calls on my cell and desk phones, coworkers paging me every five minutes or coming over to my desk to ask me questions, and the like.  My dream job would be being able to just do my job with a moment or two of peace and quiet!),
    • allows for travel of some sort (getting out of the office does wonders for morale, and continued learning, networking and taking the temperature of the industry are all super-important), and
    • inspires its employees – every day – to do better, to be better.

As I first wrote this list, I thought of gripes I have about the workplace and said where people don’t do this or where this or that doesn’t happen…  I changed these into positive statements, which I think says a lot about what I want my workplace to look like.  I think we can all relate to the bickering and gossip that go on, and it’s even worse that we let ourselves get sucked into it.  If a place could create an environment where that wasn’t necessary, that would be so incredibly amazing.

You could look at the above as a mission statement, perhaps, or maybe even a manifesto for just part of how I think a business should be run.  Either way, I think most places of work could benefit from taking a look at how they do business, and foster an environment that encourages passion and purpose.  But, who knows…  Maybe I’m just dreaming!!

31-Day Blog Challenge: My Earliest Memory

Day 13/31

So, in full disclosure, I did write this post but kept it Private because the writing was that bad and my heart just wasn’t in that post.  I’m just checking in to let you all know that yes, I did do the challenge for today!

Today was one of those days where things are going pretty well until you encounter a life-sucker.  You know the type…  People who are negative energies who try to suck the life and happiness out of others because it makes their menial, closed minds think they are powerful.  Luckily, the rest of the day went better after this brief WTFDIDTY (what the $#!* did I do to you) moment, but I’ve just never understood what compels people to think that making others feel small will somehow make them feel big and special.  I suppose we should just feel pity and pray for those people that feel the need to compensate for their lackings by spewing toxic energy towards those around them.  All I have to conclude at the end of some interactions anymore is that, if there really is a force called karma (and I believe there is), then some people are in for one hell of a rude awakening.

Anyway…  Back to positive thoughts as I drift to sleep soon…  Buenos noches, mis amigos!  (I’m channeling my inner Juan Pablo here, sans accent and six-pack…  Now I just feel sad…  Good night!)

Thought of the Day: New Day, New Me

"Every new day is a chance to change your life.

“Every new day is a chance to change your life.

New year, new me?  How about, “New day, new me.”

Each day is an opportunity to start from fresh… to turn our tragedies into triumphs (cliche & platitude all in one – had to do it!), our frustrations into action, our goals into fruition, our mistakes into lessons, our downfalls into strengths, and our lives into how we’ve always wanted them to be.

"Every day is a new beginning.  Stay away from what might have been and look at what can be."

“Every day is a new beginning. Stay away from what might have been and look at what can be.”

31-Day Blog Challenge: What’s in YOUR wallet?

Day 8/31

The prompt for today is “What’s in my handbag?”  Predictably, I don’t carry a handbag, but I do use a Kenneth Cole laptop bag (hey, I told you in a previous post that I was a brand whore) for work that I carry with me everyday except on weekends.  Plus, I have a wallet (again, this is breaking news). So, I guess that will have to work for the purposes of this post!  To make it more interesting, I’m giving away (for free!) part of my philosophy on shopping – spend smart, my friends!

In my laptop bag, I have the following…

  • 17” MacBook Pro (I love the big screen – not so much the weight or bulk…  #firstworldproblems)
  • Padfolio with notepad and various papers
  • Steno Notebook for various notes and lists and my antiquated budget that I never followed
  • iPad 3
  • Various chargers and cables (I’m an IT guy – you can’t get away from this stuff!)
  • Checkbook (rarely use – I don’t get miles for checks!)
  • Two external hard drives
  • Lots of pens (I hate pencils)
  • Moleskine Sketchbook with various pens, markers and a ruler (these are currently at home but are usually with me for when inspiration strikes)
  • Scientific calculator (I hate touch-screen calculators on phones)
  • SD Card Case
  • Travel-size Purell
  • Burt’s Bees Lip Balm (it works a lot better than other brands, at least for me)
  • Fiber One, Good n’ Natural and CLIF bars
  • Mi-Fi Personal Hotspot
  • Cinnamon Mints
  • Klipsch Noise-Isolating In-Ear Headphones (these were actually a steal at under $30 but work great!)

Coach Bleeker Wallet: Retail – $148.00; after a Coach Men’s Factory sale and an additional 30% off clearance… $49.00. Best part about it? If it needs repaired or replaced, it’s complimentary with Coach – holla!)

In my wallet, I have…

  • Various credit cards and my DL (I carry Citi’s AAdvantage card since American flies out of an airport close to me – I love miles and hate paying to check a bag – and an AmEx for all of the great perks and benefits that come with it, as well as my oldest student credit card so I have a longer length of credit history)
  • Casino Player’s Card (totally worthless because I have consistently lost the last two times I’ve gone and I’m pretty sure this is how they track you – scary!)
  • Library card (holla!)
  • Various gift cards
  • Various loyalty cards (although I’m starting to get rid of these as businesses can look up your info on the computer)
  • Business cards
  • Dining Etiquette Tips card (always good for quick reference on the way to a fancier restaurant or event)

Since we’re talking money and brands here, I should insert my philosophy – NEVER PAY RETAIL FOR ANYTHING.  Let me repeat…  NEVER PAY RETAIL FOR ANYTHING!  Outlet stores, sales, and sites like Brad’s Deals, Shop It To Me and Woot! can help you save (and, full disclosure, spend) a bundle.  Quality items don’t have to be expensive if you are on the lookout, because remember, long-lasting quality over quantity is one of my biggest rules of thumb.  If you have to replace it three times in the same time period as a nicer item, was it really worth buying the cheap version?  Usually, it isn’t.  Splurge, but be smart about it.  Specials, sales and coupons are your friends, friends, and it’s okay to use them!  I may be a brand whore, but I’m a smart and savvy brand whore!  #onlineshoppingforlife #maybeineedalife #okendingpostnow

What’s in your wallet?