Okay okay. I know this week’s title does not really fit with last week’s resolutions. Occasionally, in the wonderful world of “I just got dumped by someone I love,” you will find your mind flitting from idea to idea, not always in total agreement with what you may have been sure about say, yesterday. Last week, my body wanted kale. This week, it wanted chocolate (and a little booze). My mom always said that I had an evil twin. I would disagree. That alter-ego is always with me, she just doesn’t always show up or win out. This weekend, she did. And what she wanted was to eat chocolate and flirt shamelessly with strangers.
Before I get further into all that, I will say that I did some truly positive things for myself this past week as well. My friend Emily from work invited me along to a Lean In Circle Kickoff Party, which I had never heard of, but now am quite interested in. When I’ve asked around if people had heard of Lean In, I had a lot of “oh yes, the book?” Well, sort of. Yes, there is a book. Actually I think there are several books. But what I am specifically talking about are Lean In circles. These are small groups that you can join, made up of women, with the aim to empower women to aim higher in their careers. You can join all sorts of different circles, depending on what you’re looking for. You can join a circle for those new to the area, a circle for the stage of your career, a circle specifically for those in your profession…. And the idea is to “create a space for conversations about gender bias and the leadership gap, and to empower more women to pursue leadership.” One aspect of the circles is education, and in meetings, you’re supposed to watch educational videos about negotiating salary, asking for promotions and driving your career to where you want it to go. Another is that you’re supposed to be able to talk about what ails you at work and how to get where you want to be.
The kickoff meeting was really just to introduce people to the concept of the circles, and of course invite women to join circles. I was absolutely intrigued. One of my big complaints with where I’m at in my career right now is that I don’t feel like I have many people in my life who I can truly talk to about work and get advice, because they often don’t know what I do or where I want to go or how to get there. I don’t know many people with a similar career trajectory to where I’m going, and I don’t want to bore my friends with talk about work all the time. I do have a friend who I often go to for advice about work (shout out to Beth!) and although she’s extremely wise and helpful (and used to work for my company), she’s just one person and we have different goals, ultimately. I think having a circle of people there to support and empower me in my career would be extremely helpful. Also, I really like giving advice, so I feel like that would make me feel useful as well. I am definitely interested in potentially joining a circle, and I have already RSVPed to a Lean In happy hour next month.
Lazy Saturday – With an Educational Element
I didn’t have any plans on Saturday morning, and it was a gorgeous, sunny day, so I decided to take myself on a little wander. I didn’t have a specific destination in mind, but knew I wanted coffee (and didn’t want to make it myself), and didn’t want to drive anywhere. I live only about a mile from the National Mall, so that was a natural walk destination.
On the way, I passed by Eastern Market, which I introduced to you in a past post. It was a little chilly, so not as busy as usual. There’s a little coffee shop right next to the market with outside seating that makes fresh chocolate croissants, so I thought, why not treat myself and do a little people watching? I ordered a cafe au lait and a chocolate croissant and sat in the sunshine, watching the people and the dogs go by. It was lovely. From there, I walked down to the National Mall, which again, was less busy than usual. The best thing about winter in DC, aside from the fact that it gets less snow and is less cold than Upstate New York, is that finally, the tourists stop coming in such droves. As a person who loves to travel, I do in some ways sympathize with the tourists and try to be nice to them when I can. But if I’m being honest, they’re terribly annoying. Most are families with grade school children who don’t seem to know where they’re going and aren’t used to walking where there are other people. They take up the entire sidewalk so you can’t pass them, will stop suddenly in the middle of the path so you almost run into them and often stand on both sides of the metro escalators (the ultimate annoyance for those who live here and have places to be). Anyway, in winter, they stop coming! Or at least their numbers increase significantly. And it is GLORIOUS! The city is ours once again.
I stopped at the Hirshhorn Gallery Sculpture Garden, which I have only glanced in before. It features modern art and the sculptures were a little on the strange side (I much prefer the National Sculpture Garden at the National Gallery of Art) but this one actually featured many more sculptures and I had almost the entire place to myself, which gave it an enchanting quality. It was definitely worth checking out even if I didn’t love the sculptures.
Welcome to the Jungle
I turned around at that point, and on my way home, stopped at the National Botanic Garden, which is among my very favorite Smithsonians. I stop in quite a bit in winter when I forgo the hiking and often wander down to the mall instead. They often have seasonal displays, which are lovely, but my very favorite room in the garden is the jungle room. As you may or may not know, I have been lucky enough to have lived in two rainforests: one in Madagascar while studying abroad during college, and the other while working for an environmental study abroad program in Northeastern Australia. Anyway, I have a real thing for rainforests. So naturally, I LOVE the jungle room. It smells like a rainforest, it feels like a rainforest (you might want to take off your coat before entering) and I recognize many of the plants from my time in rainforests. They even have my favorite tree from Madagascar – the traveller’s palm (Ravenala madagascariensis). It’s really cool because the trunk is hollow and stores a whole bunch of water, so if you ever got lost in the forest and couldn’t find water (even rainforests have dry seasons), you could tap into it and quench your thirst.
The jungle room also features several species of orchids (Orchidaceae). You have probably seen orchids, as they’re popular house plants with gorgeous flowers. However, you might not know what makes them so extremely unique and cool. They usually live in dense forests where there happens to not be much airflow so they can’t depend on the wind to disperse their pollen and create little orchid babies. Instead, many of them have evolved to disguise themselves as insects! If you notice, the flowers are usually brightly colored and look sort of bizarre – they scream “look at me!” But who they are actually asking for attention from is the insects that they have disguised themselves as. The horny little insects come along, copulate with the flowers and make off with their pollen, helping to disperse it and creating more orchids! Cool right? I’m no orchid expert by any means, but that is my understanding. Plus, orchids are weird-looking and beautiful so I like them anyway.
Table for One, Please
Saturday evening, I went to see a friend’s improv show. (P.S. I have signed up for an introductory improv class starting in January!). I wanted to stay out in that area of town to meet up with her and her friends later on, but they had a dinner to go to at someone’s house. Instead of heading home and risking getting too snuggled up in my bed (I had done my hair and worn a cute, new dress afterall), I decided to take myself out to dinner. Alone. All by myself. On date night.
It was a little terrifiying. I was tempted to walk right back out of the restaurant. Coffee alone is one thing, dinner in a crowded restaurant is another. But, I was hungry, and hadn’t been grocery shopping and the food smelled delicious. I chose a restaurant that I love, Busboys and Poets, and sat at the bar. When I sat down, I picked a seat that only had one empty seat next to it so I didn’t have to worry about a couple on a date sitting next to me. Joke was on me! Because a couple came up and just brought an extra seat. Oh well.
I spent about half the time sitting on my phone and the other half people watching. It wasn’t so bad. For dinner, I ordered a latte and nachos. If I was going to sit there and eat alone, I might as well have picked a food that I probably wouldn’t eat on a date right?! Too messy for that! The couple who pulled up next to me ordered these interesting little coffee drinks that I had considered getting ahead of the meal but decided not to be adventurous. It looked delicious and they recommended trying one, so I ordered one. It was called a Cafe Midici and was a mix of chocolate syrup, espresso, whipped cream and an orange slice. It was a good little treat! So yes, I did have chocolate for two meals that day, and I feel pretty okay about it.
I was proud of myself for doing this. I’m trying to prove to myself I can be totally alone and be fine, and I am definitely seeing improvement. It’s not like when we were dating, Rich was around all the time. A lot of the time, he would rather hole himself up in his room and play video games instead of hang out with me. He’d say he couldn’t afford to go out to dinner (which I do understand) then blow $50 on takeout. But I feel like knowing you have someone is enough of a comfort to make you more brave. At least for me. Knowing I don’t have someone is something I need to get used to again. My confidence has to once again come from me, not someone who doesn’t even value spending time with me that much (it’s funny what you will put up with in a relationship, only to think later how absurd that was). And it is getting better everyday. I am ready to be back to the person I was before I met Rich – though older and wiser.
After dinner, I met up with met up with my friend Andrea and after some relaxing at her place, hit the town. I did have a couple drinks (because I wanted to, not because it was easy or I was pressured or anything) and we had a good time out! It was one of the only times I have been out since the breakup where I didn’t feel totally self-conscious. And Andrea’s gorgeous blonde hair reigned in some men, so I spent part of the evening flirting with drunk strangers. It felt pretty good. Sort of like I still have it! And being single could still be fun. It’s funny how such a little thing can change your outlook so drastically. I wasn’t interested whatsoever in any of those guys, yet just the fact that they payed attention to me made me think all is not lost. Because it’s not.