Friday, May 15, 2020

Month Two of Quarantine: April 14-May 13, 2020

Actions, Learnings and Observations


Maybe you, too?

  1. Will bought a lot of masks.
  2. I replanned this year for the third time. 
  3. I lost my keys in my room. COVID-19 brain.
  4. We had a virtual '90s dance party.
  5. We watched Star Wars (Episode IV) on May the 4th.
  6. Will went on a J.Crew bankruptcy-induced shopping spree. (Hooray for size tall medium.)
  7. I measured a nearby plaza and made it into a "track".
  8. I finally watched the Great British Baking Show and it is as great as everyone has said for years. It makes me crave pastries all the time.
  9. We finished a puzzle. We miss it.
  10. We reminisced on six official months together and all of the life that we have crammed into them.
  11. I started craving salad (semi-unheard of).
  12. We took advantage of a half-off Uber Eats deal. (So much delicious Ethiopian food.) Also a BOGO AndPizza deal.
  13. We did a virtual 5k.
  14. We finished a first bucket list and wrote a second one.
  15. Will's farmer's tan started making a comeback.
  16. I realized that an hour...even 45 minutes...is a "long run".
  17. The Northern Virginia lockdown was extended until May 28 and the D.C. lockdown was extended until June 8.
  18. I took an online nutrition class.
  19. Will deep-cleaned the windows, inside of the washing machine, dishwasher and the bathtub.
  20. We discussed the various dog types.
  21. Will picked up the guitar...several times.
  22. I made my first broth.
  23. We had several 4:45 am wake-ups and received a follow-up letter from the loud neighbors.
  24. I get nervous when I see vacancy signs.
  25. Will and I started an audiobook together.
  26. We welcomed back the nearby fountain.
  27. I gave my mom a mug that said "I'm proud to be y'orchid." She loves it.
  28. We bought five zucchini and had zucchini bread, stir fry and fritters all in one week.
  29. I researched donating my hair. Currently at six months since my last haircut.
  30. Carrot soup, ilantro cashew pesto are awesome.
  31. I decided that I'm not going to be a license plate collector.
  32. Will accidentally added "noodles" to the pho order and we had a really large bowl of leftovers.
  33. The Ellen Show became a consistent source of joy (starring Ellen Degeneres and Ellen Degeneres and Ellen Degeneres). However, a governor of a state that we do not live in consistently tried to interrupt.
  34. I started walking circles around the apartment while reading work emails.
  35. I reviewed every one of my photos and videos from college (SO many sorority photos).
  36. I am still much better at "stocking up" on groceries than Will.
  37. I fell in love with Criobru.
  38. Will tried a goatee for twenty minutes.
  39. I spotted baby ducklings so it is officially spring.
  40. I signed up for absentee ballots for the year.
  41. We celebrated Cinco de Mayo with cilantro chicken soup and to-go margaritas.
  42. I still feel incredibly violated when people enter my personal space at the grocery store. I officially avoid the store now and it sucks.
  43. We made a lot of pancakes.

Probably just us:

  1. I fell in love with Will's meatloaf recipe.
  2. My brother got engaged so Will and I became virtual game show hosts. Dad is still happy that I suggested Mom throw confetti over the iPad.
  3. We virtually explored European culture for Europe Day.
  4. Will got his first placemats as I sorted my apartment.
  5. The nearby plaza at lunch looked oddly normal when there were people sitting in the sunshine outside a restaurant with an "Open" sign.
  6. Will suggested yoga before I did. It happened.
  7. I learned how hard it is to purchase clean serum that does not contain xanthan gum.
  8. My great-grand little was featured by The Today Show.
  9. Will reached out to an author he likes and is now helping him write his next book.
  10. We looked at rings and apartments to try to move forward. 
  11. My Hawaiian plant survived three freeze watches in May.
  12. Will became a stretching rack.
  13. We said "swo" and "gwoss" a semi-concerning amount of times.
  14. On a walk, we found a secret passageway to the metro.
  15. Will took the Hogwarts sorting survey and the Enneagram. He also guessed my Enneagram number perfectly.
  16. We biked to Mount Vernon and peered through the gates to see sheep butts.
  17. I researched medical hashtags for work and now feel concerned about #bedwetting.
  18. We put on fancy clothes for a "Shades of Red" dinner: poached salmon, beets, purple barley and red wine.

Sunday, April 26, 2020

Month One of ~Quarantine: March 14-April 13, 2020

Actions, Learnings and Observations


Maybe you, too?

  1. Dog-watching is the new people-watching. 
  2. It is possible to have a longer line to get into Trader Joe’s than to get out of it.
  3. Grown-up bike accidents are not fun. 
  4. Gingerbread, pie, DIY frosties, banana bread, pancakes, barbecue and pizza are delicious.
  5. Virtual birthdays, happy hours, Bible studies, family dinners, game nights, dance parties and trivia sessions are a thing.
  6. Sitting on the couch all day is not as fun and comfortable as it sounds.
  7. Impostor syndrome and hypochondriac tendencies are still real for me.
  8. Facemask Fridays don’t sound as cute as they used to with this whole new mask epidemic.
  9. Babies on conference calls need to stay.
  10. I've been living by the motto "Do as much as you can for as long as you can."
  11. I’m good not running much, but I absolutely have to move my legs every day to feel sane.
  12. The upstairs neighbor has a heavier heel strike than I do.
  13. Audiobooks are great walking and running accompaniment.
  14. I feel incredibly violated when people enter my personal space at the grocery store.
  15. A happy group text: get one.
  16. I get nervous when ambulances pass.
  17. Puzzles are still cool.
  18. Baked beans are my new impulse buy.
  19. I miss the gym.
  20. Raspberry jam is actually that easy to make and it is worth spooning straight into my mouth.
  21. “The public is being urged to avoid public transportation.”
  22. Gloves are the new all-weather accessory.
  23. Enchilada-making on a teleconference: the new maximizing.
  24. I finally joined (multiple) Instagram lives.
  25. Exercising (in some form) every day is the way to go.
  26. Apparently it’s not easy to donate blood during an urgent call for blood. We tried.
  27. Taxes still suck, even when they get extended.
  28. Pitching is an adventure.
  29. Vacuuming often is totally necessary.
  30. I’m working to learn how to chew slowly since there’s no longer any rush.
  31. I really miss chips and salsa bowls at restaurants. NO idea when that will be back.
  32. So many misspelled COVID-related trending hashtags...
  33. Apparently the 2020 Olympics can get moved to a different year.
  34. Toilet paper is a prize to be treasured.
  35. Even in the "apocalypse", people love T-rexes.
  36. Got sick of the words "pivot", "cancelled", "virtual" and "teleconference".
  37. Our president is ridiculous.
  38. A printer plus a board game box makes a great standing desk.
  39. Microwave s’mores are worth it.
  40. I'm not sure if jaywalking is a thing any more.


Probably just us:

  1. Will’s to-do list is way cooler (and shorter) than mine.
  2. I like Will both with and without facial hair.
  3. Biz is the best boyfriend-interrogator. (Now taking requests for her lists of questions.)
  4. Will and I actually like each other, even when the world is sometimes crazy, monotonous, scary and sweet and we have lots of extra time together.
  5. Will likes my couch better than his couch.
  6. Will can fold laundry better than Marie Kondo.
  7. Will doesn’t feel smart enough to go to MIT (online courses with differential equations give him a headache).
  8. Will does not love "Wait, Wait, Don’t Tell Me.” I still do.
  9. We found and relished in the deliciousness of vegan gingerbread loaf and pancakes.
  10. I kept training through the first race cancellation and organized a socially-distant backup race, then I totally forgot to react when the weekend of the second race-to-be passed without a race.
  11. I put my headphones through the washing machine in my pocket and then thought about it, went back to work, then accidentally didn't fish them out before the dryer cycle.
  12. We ate pie for a whole week.
  13. Soy milk curdles in the microwave...it's unpleasant.
  14. My pink temporary hair dye intended for platinum hair still doesn't work on my non-platinum blond hair.

Friday, April 3, 2020

Surprise! You’re Working from Home

I am incredibly grateful for the opportunity to quickly transition to fully-working-from-home during this era of unexpected COVID-19 weirdness. I have verbalized never wanting to work from home more than “maybe one day a week”. Meanwhile, my roommate loves doing it every day as she has done for years. I even did college sociology research on the stress of living at your workplace, whether serving on housing staff or working from home. However, just like I’ve said for years that I could do vegetarianism but never veganism—and then found out that I am “highly reactive” to both eggs and all dairy—life sometimes turns out very different than you’d expect. 

I mourn the news and am working to keep focused on what I can control as well as regularly sharing positive tidbits and moments with friends. At first glance, almost all of my personal default settings have been thwarted by this quarantine. I am extroverted, almost-never-sitting-still, definitely not a homebody, nearly always searching out and planning the next fun event, and I typically seek out nearly constant stimulation from either interesting media, creative opportunities and/or social interaction. I’ve read more than ten “work from home tips” blogs and wasn’t seeing these, so this is what I've been doing to help with Pandemic-induced working from home!

(Image by DarkWorkX from Pixabay) 

To work from home as well as possible, I incorporate these tips as much as I need to:

1. Start, break up or end the day by walking. Or, do all three! In the absence of commutes, we still need transitions, breaks and movement. The sunshine and bird twitters have been a special treat for me. While, like everyone, I wish this had never happened, I’m particularly thankful that this pandemic didn’t happen in the winter.
2. Switch up between essential oils or use a candle to create “new environments”. Pick different scents to help you celebrate a new day.
3. Plank day! Choose a day to do a plank once an hour. Be sure to use a timer to help you remember. Choose sit ups, wallsits or something else, if you prefer. You’ll be surprised how much it helps move the day along while you squeeze in strength-building resets.
4. When possible, try to combine news catch-up with time that you are answering simple emails.
5. As you can, take advantage of the amazing, free online-learning options. I’ve found worthwhile options through my library online, Instagram, email newsletters, listservs and trials of usually expensive training portals.  
6. Keep water next to you. Either have a tall glass that holds more water (to keep you more hydrated without forgetting) or use a smaller glass that prompts you to get up to refill. 
7. If you have to review longer documents or news emails and it can be done on your phone, use those minutes to pace around a room, hallway or around the block. (Obviously, maintain social distance and wash your hands thoroughly if you have to touch any door handles or buttons.)
8. Incorporate inspirational photos or quotes into your workspace, whether by moving frames over to your new primary spot, updating your desktop, using a colorful sticky note, or writing a dry erase marker quote on your fridge or bathroom mirror. 
9. Invest in blue-light glasses to help protect your eyes from all of the screen time.
10. If you don’t need to be on video, whether during or after work, use the call-in only option on Zoom, or close or otherwise focus your eyes while listening to a Facebook Live or webinar. Give your eyes and brain a break from the useful but weirdly exhausting video call era that we’ve emerged into.
11. Set recurring alarms to shift positions, refocus your eyes every twenty to thirty minutes (extra screen time means more eye strain), roll your shoulders, and/or take belly breaths.
12. Check in with coworkers just to say hello. Remember when we used to all say hello on the way in or in the break room? (I miss that!)
13. Reserve special tea, coffee or treats for when you are struggling and work to truly savor them. I’ve realized that my default was eating too quickly so have been working on chewing well and taking smaller bites to prolong the deliciousness.
14. Without my beloved standing desk options from my recent offices, I was experiencing too-frequent spells of numbness, tingling and backaches. And then, my boyfriend and I made one by stacking a board game box on top of a printer on the kitchen counter. As I finish this blog standing, I can already say that it has made such a difference. If you want to invest in a more legitimate option, I loved having this Vari converter at my last job.
15. Adopt various music themes to spice up the days: Taylor Swift day, retro playlist day, Macklemore day, musical day, Tim McGraw day, Beach Boys day and several (irreverent but weirdly stress-relieving) days of the “COVID-19 Quarantine Party” Spotify playlist
16. Appreciate any meeting-free hours or days by joining me for “Face Mask Fridays” or whichever day suits you best.
17. Acknowledge the emotional “penthouse days” and the “dungeon days”. On the dungeon days, take a deep breath, work to reset and try your best to “win in the dark”. (Thanks, Lucas Jadin of TRAIN2BCLUTCH for sharing in the DMV Running Clinic!)


I hope these ideas help you keep things lively and productive for as long as you can during the #quarantinelife. Let me know if you have any additions! Thanks for reading.

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