Friday, July 5, 2019

My Semi-Patented Event-Finding Method


At this point, enough friends have called me their “TripAdvisor,” social coordinator, etc. and I’ve been told that “life is never boring around you,” so I’ll own it. I’m extroverted, active, seek to live life to the fullest and have had a blast enjoying tons of eclectic events in my chosen homes of Greenville, SC, Arlington, VA and Washington, D.C. over the last ten years. Here is how I’ve discovered and kept up with many of the events that bring me joy. I hope that you find some new favorites!

My Semi-Patented Event-Finding Method
  1. On Facebook, go to the events tab and see what is coming up. You can see what your internet friends might be attending and receive suggestions based on your interests, location, etc. Click interested even if you aren’t sure you can go and you will both receive a reminder about the actual event as well as reminders for any future related events. 
  2. While out walking, jogging, biking, commuting or meandering, you’ll probably see signs and flyers advertising the next special event. Take a photo or jot down the basic details and plan time to try them out. Bonus: you probably won’t have to work as hard to figure out the event directions.
  3. Whenever you meet new people (or are chatting with newer people), ask what their favorite events or places are: you get to learn about them and while getting new ideas (or bonding over old, shared favorites) at the same time!
  4. Keep up with your local newspapers and magazines on Facebook (click “follow” to make it official) and/or read the monthly or weekend print editions at least occasionally. Weekend editions or monthly features will include top restaurant lists, museums exhibits, upcoming concerts along with a little of everything else. 
  5. When you find an event or group that you enjoy, pencil in their future events so that you can get into the rhythm of joining.
  6. Those bulletin boards at the cool coffee shop, the grocery store and the gym? Read them.
  7. Subscribe to email newsletters that share events that you like: for example, Active Life DC, 730 DC and DCist are some of my favorites in Washington, D.C. 
  8. Volunteer: you’ll be able to have great experiences and will also probably get invited to subsequent volunteer events and/or other social and potentially behind-the-scenes events.
  9. Filter Eventbrite for specific types of events: free stuff, workout classes, cultural events, educational events, comedy shows and everything else. Hint: if an event is free and requires a ticket, register immediately and add a plus-one if you'd like (and then cancel your ticket ahead of time if you won’t be able to attend). 
  10. Track special events at nearby libraries, museums, universities, business improvement districts, theaters, stores that you love and other venues. First Friday art events, monthly Museum Days and annual holiday events are just a few of the things that I try to enjoy whenever I can.
  11. Review Meetup groups and "join" any of interest; even if you don’t actually go with the Meetup group events, there are often great ideas. 
  12. Some event websites are worth monitoring (there should be similar ones in many cities). Some great D.C. ones are DCOutdoorfilms.com, Thrillist.com and Thingstododc.com.



Feel free to share your experience and any methods that I missed. Enjoy each day!

Wednesday, June 12, 2019

Summer Office-Survival Methods

Summer Office Survival Methods:
  1. Start your day with lots of water (yes, before coffee). Remember that you need even more water than normal at this time of year. 
  2. Make a good playlist (or a few) and use it to make the commute and those less-than-exciting projects more enjoyable.
  3. Use a pretty bowl to keep produce and other healthy snacks on your desk for exactly the moments when you need them. 
  4. Those gift cards that you got from that exchange or won in that raffle? Choose to use them for pre-, mid- or post-work treats this summer! 
  5. Clean out and sanitize your office. If you’d like, rearrange or update your decorations. 
  6. Take a walk break or a few during the work day. Bonus points for getting out into the sunlight (with your shades), asking a coworker to come along or calling your Grandma to say hi.
  7. Use any flex or early-off time options to do special outings or accomplish errands: strategize about them sooner rather than later so that you have more flexibility. Easily knock out that medical test, haircut or play tourist in your area at a venue that you haven’t gotten to after standard work hours.
  8. Finally splurge on the matcha powder (or other fun beverage) to have it handy at your desk.
  9. If you can, take advantage of the office being more deserted and work or take a call from a nearby coffee shop, park or pretty hotel lobby to mix things up.
  10. Deal with your files. Schedule an hour or a few for a delayed “spring” cleaning of your physical and digital files—it’s technically still spring until late June.
  11. Decorate with a new plant or flower. $5 flowers from Trader Joe’s or the corner stand? They’ll probably bring you joy longer than a $5 latte.   
  12. And if you’re able to take space in the evening after work: Turn your phone off for a few hours.
  13. Make time to read or write on a beautiful bench.
  14. Actually make one of those awesome recipes that you’ve saved.
  15. Take the slow way home and enjoy the sights along the way.

All the best for your summer,
Jessica

Friday, November 24, 2017

My Third 21 Days as a D.C. Resident


1.     Enjoyed round two at the Army Ten Miler, but afterwards admitted that ten miles is really not my distance
2.     Got invited to join the National Press Club
3.     Asked the Assistant to the President to let me take a photo of his socks for #Socktober17, a fundraiser for the homeless
4.     Finally watched the Blair Witch Project in honor of Halloween at the Library of Congress
5.     Seriously considered buying cheap flights to Paris or Seattle on Skyscanner
6.     Hunted for the perfect pumpkin with Jordan at Eastern Market
7.     Savored a wonderful vegetarian Ethiopian spread at Ethiopic with Starr
8.     Officially acknowledged Capitol Hill as a hill
9.     Got 13 hours’ notice to run a 10k with theMarine Corps crew and re-embraced that distance
10. Attended a reception for the Bare Short Film
11. Enjoyed an incredible Kurdish four course meal cooked by my brave new friend Julia
12. Ran into a fifth familiar person out and about the D.C. metro area
13. Watched the last seven minutes of a Supreme Court case (after over two and a half hours in line)
14. Took a photo with Mariah and the alternative Fruit of the Loom bunch (from Wegman's)
15. Joined Capital BikeShare and traipsed about the city
16. Attended a “wine down” with stimulating conversation
17. Hit two twenty minute metro delays after mistakenly going on autopilot late at night
18. Walked a cat on a leash around Capitol Hill with Sofia
19. Made a fourth visit to the DMV
20. Continued to debate when the weather might reliably become autumnal
21. Reengaged my French skills at a French conversation group dinner after too much dormancy 
22. Discovered that I was sitting next to a Secret Service agent at Ebenezers
23. Fundraised to bar-goers at Penn Social
24. Finally made it to the White House Garden tour
25. Marveled incredulously at my GPS’s ability to show me getting further and further from a nearby target destination
26. Went to the Senate briefing on biodiversity and wildlife corridors
27. Did a HIIT workout downtown in Halloween costume (accompanied by a snowman, Iron Man and Ariel)
28. Spotted several people doing pro-circulation yoga relaxation with their legs up the wall of the base of the Washington Monument
29. Talked my way into puppy-sitting duties
30. Appreciated noon fireworks and shared a bench swing with a stranger at the grand opening of the Wharf
31. Considered Yoga District intensive teacher certification
32. Watched sunrise from the Lincoln Memorial and couldn’t stop myself from taking another photo of the “same” view
33. Admired the skills of the roller skate dancer at the Walk Out of Darkness finale
34. Made repeat visits to the Protein Bar and La Loma with Matt
35. Had a coffee date with Emily at the Senate fountain
36. Added some diversity while volunteering for Diwali at the Freer Gallery
37. Fought the rain to get to a Kennedy Center Millennium Stage concert

Monday, November 6, 2017

More Intentionals and Unintentionals: My Second 21 Days as a D.C. Resident


  1. Spotted the AMTRAK Special Operations team 
  2. Barely survived an Equinox Tabata class with Melissa 
  3. Officially crowned Un Je Ne Sais Quoi as awesome (and converted Matt’s coworkers and Grace) 
  4. Reminisced about recent years with two fellow Army brats from middle school and earlier
  5. Waited hours for free ice cream and then got photobombed by Jeni
  6. Rediscovered the National Zoo and its most excellent informational signage 
  7. Got hit by a bike while jogging
  8. Met two members of the Sweetgreen events team…however, I’m still trying to figure out the pattern behind the forward versus backwards e logos? 
  9. Visited several trendy Alexandria shops with Emily
  10. Ordered the “Melania” mocktail at Off the Record while Matt tricked me into dinner instead of appetizers 
  11. Discovered the existence of the Mean Girls musical on Mean Girls Day 
  12. Reveled in the nearby brand spanking new Trader Joe’s 
  13. Failed twice at getting into the Bureau of Engraving and Printing tour 
  14. Nerded out while touring NPR headquarters 
  15. Made two visits to Shake Shack with Matt 
  16. Took way too many photos at the United States Botanic Garden 

  17. Participated in car-free day 
  18. Got offered a free cappuccino at DC Coffee Fest  
  19. Watched the This is Us premiere with Emily 
  20. Was serenaded by the “Honk 4 Trump Unity Bridge”
  21. Spent more than twenty minutes in line at Columbia Heights Target on a Tuesday at 6:35 pm 
  22. Adventured through four galleries with Morgan for First Friday Dupont 
  23. Marveled at every corner of Union Market
  24. Passed crew teams on the Potomac and the George Washington cross country team on the nearby streets
  25. Spotted a senator on a date night walk (complete with a blissful McDonald’s hot fudge sundae)
  26. Debated which business-appropriate, laptop-fitting bag I should purchase to match the local uniform
  27. Discussed the merits of Logan Circle with Robin 
  28. Jogged through a cloud of pigeons on the National Mall 
  29. Ate lunch with Janie behind the waterfall in the National Museum of the American Indian 

Thursday, September 28, 2017

My First 21 Days (as a D.C. Resident)


Things I both intentionally and unintentionally did during my earliest days as a new DMV area resident…
  1. Visited the National Museum of African American History and Culture 
  2. Tried a week of CorePower Yoga classes 
  3. Fell wholeheartedly in love with The Coffee Bar 
  4. Missed my metro stop twice
  5. Attended a panel discussion of the intersection of adolescent mental health and gender at the International Center for Research on Women 
  6. Spotted someone I knew downtown
  7. Paddleboated at the Jefferson Memorial 
  8. Enjoyed D.C. Restaurant Week
  9. Viewed the great American eclipse at the National Air and Space Museum 
  10. Did homeless outreach with Capital Life Church 
  11. Developed “the Garden Route” on a morning run: six gardens plus a swing past the National Museum of African Art in an hour’s run
  12. Rode the Smithsonian Carousel
  13. Read every events calendar that I saw or heard of and got overwhelmed by all of the options
  14. Attended my first Nationals baseball game 
  15. Visited a trendy downtown watering hole on Friday night with my boy
  16. Discovered that Miss America 2018 lived in my building last year
  17. Ran “stadiums” on the Lincoln Memorial steps 
  18. Beat the morning reveal of the daily national front pages at the Newseum
  19. Volunteered at the 202 Arts and Music Festival 
  20. Attended my first navy football game
  21. Was a minority at the grocery store
  22. Got invited to dinner in the Trump International Hotel
  23. Did two group workouts with the DC Road Runners 
  24. Got honked at in rush hour traffic
  25. Joined the PRSA-NCC pro-bono committee 
  26. Crammed through a partially dysfunctional metro door into a crowd of humans at rush hour
  27. Visited Eastern Market for lunch 
  28. Heard a private sneak preview of a National Archives lecture
  29. Ate a sushi burrito, Afghan food, a rapidly melting snow cone and most importantly, Sweetgreen   
  30. Hit the last Sculpture Garden jazz concert of the summer 
It's an interesting and busy place and I'm thankful for the opportunity to move here and live downtown.


Saturday, July 29, 2017

Greenville-Area Favorites

As an active, semifoodie, people-watching enthusiast that likes to get more for my money, here are my favorite things from my time in the Greenville area over the last eight years. Thanks for all of the sweet memories, #yeahTHATGreenville!

Buy your baby shower, birthday and Christmas presents and give a lovely gift that everyone else won't have
Bring along water, snacks, a camera and some motivated hiking buddies
Enjoy with a picnic or while walking around the lake, thanks to the concert being projected over the belltower speakers


A cozy, popular nook—the most charming basement you’ll ever visit
A sweet opportunity to try out a variety of Greenville's excellent restaurants in March—coming back in 2018
Tapas with eclectic flavors and the site of some of my favorite dinners
  • Outdoor yoga at NOMA Square, Soul and at the Courtyard by Marriott Greenville (Yoga in the Courtyard) 
Free, relaxing and the best way to start your Saturday morning or spend a Wednesday or Thursday evening
  • Honey lavender lattes at Tandem
One of the most delicious things I’ve ever tasted


Great tables, free cornbread, delicious barbecue, and amazing happy hour specials
Hard to snag, but entirely enjoyable
Wander along the art exhibits and observe glass-blowing, metal-working, and ceramics
Always efficient, classy and delicious
Always worth it, even though you have to get up really early. Crucial tip: do not plug Pretty Place into your GPS—you won't get there (speaking from experience). Bonus: take some coffee and add a Caesars Head hike afterwards.
I can vouch for both the half-marathon and marathon being excellent challenges
Gathering wardrobe inspiration, channeling your inner child, and perusing a little bit of everything else
Repeat every few years
  • Wild blackberry picking across the county 
So many berries, so little time


A beautiful chance to taste and rank different apples, people-watch, and enjoy live music in Hendersonville, NC
Really fun lessons and wonderful people-watching: free for ladies and cheap for men


Enjoy making your own adventures!

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Running Bits of the World (Originally for Outdoorosity.org)

I love nothing more than combining multiple good things. Perhaps it’s a product of being born into the millennial cohort or perhaps it’s the fact that I want too strongly to “do it all” within the confines of a “standard American adult schedule”, but when possible, combining things has become my default setting. A luncheon speaker from the national triathlon team recently referred to this as “maximizing” rather than the negatively associated “multitasking”: the main difference is that maximizing involves combining complimentary activities while multitasking involves conflicting activities. This concept of maximization now defines my primary approach to life. Writing thank you notes while waiting in line, listening to podcasts while running, carpooling in order to hang out with others while in transit (plus diminish environmental impact) or cooking while watching my favorite shows are just some of the ways that I enjoy finding more time in a day.

My favorite maximization activity of all is running around the various places that I get to visit: combining exercising with the pleasure of observing different places. The intro sign in my cubicle reveals that I am “perpetually plotting my next adventure.” As an Army brat and third generation vagabond, I crave travel. After moving every few years for the first half of my life, I very much appreciate the ability to live in one place as long as I choose to while adding in travels to visit family/friends, work events, attend conferences or weddings, or just go somewhere to take a break from my routine.

As a sociologist, I love seeing different social environments and being a part of people doing what they do. As a health-minded individual, regular exercise is a big part of my life and I try to keep it as fun as possible. As a runner, I find a special joy in exploring new spots to break up the routine and help me lose myself in the excursion while logging the miles. This also makes my Type-A brain very happy—yes, I still feel the desire to be productive even during time off during a work trip or while on vacation.

Once I am dressed and have my shoes laced up, all I usually take is my phone (on airplane mode if I’m in a foreign country), a key (as needed) and a backup source of money. I let those that I’m with (if any) know a range of when I expect to be back: a planned time and a later “start-getting-concerned-if-you-haven’t-seen-or-heard-from-me-by-now-time”—things are always a little less predictable in a new place. I am sure to have the address where I am staying logged on my phone, and then I decide which way to run first. While friends, family, and other helpful locals can often recommend routes, if I have the time and energy, it is usually even more fun for me to embrace the break from routine and decide which way to turn as I jog along.

Because of taking this approach, I know downtown Washington, D.C. better than people who’ve lived nearby for the majority of their lives. I once encountered quite the assortment of cows on a rural road in Switzerland and then I relished the opportunity to run along the Eiffel Tower on an extremely wonderful layover on the way back to the U.S.. I have run quite the assortment of fatiguing inclines near my relatives’ Knoxville, Tennessee suburb home. I semiseriously feared encountering something dangerous running near Denali in Alaska on a graduation trip. I celebrated when a crew of friends and I found our way back to the correct complex outside Johannesburg, South Africa on study abroad. I admitted to myself that I hadn’t understood the geography of the Midwest while enjoying a chilly November run along the Chicago banks of Lake Michigan on a work trip.

I encourage you to try this simultaneously tiring and energizing endeavor on your next trip. I continue to treasure the memories, photos and the ability to fuel up after a workout with some delicious out-of-the-ordinary food. If running or travel are not for you, consider if integrating maximization into your life could be beneficial to help you do more. If you do choose to run, observe the people, homes, and businesses around you. Take the various alleyways and see where you end up. Stop at the farmer’s market along the way (full disclosure: this option led to me carrying two irresistible bags of sun-dried tomatoes for the last 45 minutes of my 2015 run around Venice). Jog up the big hill and see what you can see. Run along the water and perhaps take a photo of the starfish that you might find. Make the most of your trip and your workout.