9/23/08

Exploring my new neighborhood & Unplugging

My mom is fond of telling me that the three most traumatizing things in life are death, divorce and moving. (I would add: the bar exam.) I usually think that adding the third one on there is kind of bullshit. I mean, moving? Ok, it hurts your back and all, but having done it maybe 15 times since college, I consider moving to be a mildly annoying side-effect of my persistent wander-lust. Usually I find it pretty exciting.

This time, though, I was sort of bummed out. I guess a lot of things happened in my Silver Spring house (insane roommate, major break-up, shifts in friends and priorities) and I hadn't really recognized it until I was packing everything up. So while the move itself wasn't terribly complicated, I did find myself a little dazed and distracted as I entered my new dwelling in Columbia Heights.

But now that I'm here, I'm waking up to the fact that I'm in heaven! Its a diverse, bustling neighborhood with plenty of vegan options, fantastic access to public transportation, and a great local bar and library! Its even pretty bike-friendly! I can't say I hung out much in this neck of the woods before, but now I don't ever want to leave! Here's just a few of my finds so far:

*Julia Empanadas- I used to get delicious and cheap lunches from their location in Dupont Circle a couple years ago, but I never dared to ask if the delicacies were vegan (I worried about the crusts). Well, the Columbia Heights location wears their vegan friendliness on their sleeve! I had an amazing $3.50 empanada yesterday- lentils, sweet potatoes, green beans and spices wrapped up in a slightly sweet, flaky crust- proudly proclaimed on the sign to be all vegan. Not only that, they have 3 vegan soups and two small salads- cucumber and beet. I honestly think I'll be eating here 3-4 times a week.

*Sticky Fingers Bakery- I mentioned this awesome vegan bakery/ coffee shop before, and since I was last there little has changed. There are still awesome cupcakes and sticky buns, vegan hot dogs, and convenient to-go meals. My only complaint? The hours! I wish they were open late so I could eat cupcakes and study there. Still looking for a late-night study lounge in the 'hood.

*The Heights-Although this restaurant doesn't have much in the way of vegan food other than, like, french fries, their one option is worth mentioning: tofu stir fry with red cabbage, shitake mushrooms and a sweet tamari sauce over rice. So good. Oh, and a nice selection of beer too. (This place is REALLY close to me, so I have to go there occasionally.)

I'm discovering new stuff everyday, but I won't post about everything... just suffice it to stay that if you're in DC, Columbia Heights is an area you'll want to hit up. Hey, I'll be your tour guide!

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As for "unplugging" a la Jennifer and Brett from VC&ORM, I have unintentionally done a lot more than I planned on. I initially intended to watch less TV and check fewer gossip sites and mainstream media sites. But funnily enough, life has a way of pushing you along once you get started on something. So, coincidentally, around the same time I started thinking about getting away from negative/ prejudicial white noise, I quit facebook, broke my phone, and moved to a new place where I don't have internet access or cable! So I am like, WAY unplugged right now. No text messages, no "friend updates", no perezhilton, and definitely no tv. Oh yeah, and I already mentioned no car.

All of this unplugging has left me with a lot more time and, dare I say, mental energy. It may also have to do with a lighter load at school this semester, but I find myself re-engaging in politics in a way I haven't done since college; re-reading Marx and Engels, Polanyi, Derrida, Foucault and all the other oldies but goodies. I've even been writing a bit of political stuff- after all, I can't count on law school profs to give me a critical analysis of anything.

Another nice side effect is that the lack of phone and facebook makes it difficult for people to get in touch with me. Now, that could be annoying after a while, but briefly its a nice vacation. Its amazing how much more in control I am of my time- no longer a slave to texts and event invites. And since I don't even get any messages, I don't waste time thinking about whether to respond.

So yes, my head is a bit in the clouds these days- my friends don't know where I am, and I don't know anything about Gossip Girl or my ex-boyfriend's relationship status... but then, in a lot of ways I'm more focused on what's right in front of me. Which is convenient, because I'm still getting used to dodging traffic on my new bike route.

So, in conclusion, just in time for Rosh Hashanah things are looking very up! Now, onto vegan apple challah bread...

9 comments:

Jennifer (of Veg*n Cooking) said...

Glad to hear you are liking your new neighborhood. You are right though, you might not think about all the memories a place holds until you are leaving it. I was just imagining leaving my neighborhood, and even though it is the 'hood, I still have so many fond memories of the place. You seem to have had quite the year too!

And that empanada place, I am totally jealous of that! The filling combination you described sounds fantastic!

I'm so glad you've been doing well with the initiative so far. Hopefully you won't be QUITE as unplugged permanently as you are now - outside contact is still important, but it sounds like you needed a "breather", so you'll have time to get settled in.

And you are brave for getting back into politics!

The Sober Pundit said...

Wonderland is super fun bar in Columbia Heights. It's not the best neighborhood for food, unfortunately, but there are ample restaurants in Adams Morgan that have vegan friendly cuisine. I especially like Meskerem Ethiopian food and Regent Thai.

Justin said...

Glad to hear you love the neighborhood! I felt the same way about a year ago... A lot has happened since then and it is still developing.

And I am with you on the hours at Sticky Fingers. It would be cool if we could get them to agree to a pilot program of extended hours so they can see that they would have plenty of patrons in the late evenings...

T said...

Hey DC people... thanks for the comments.

I'm a big fan of Wonderland... forgot to mention they have some good vegan stuff there too (Veggie sausage and veggie burgers... awesome.)

And I bet Sticky Fingers would have a lot of customers... I was actually considering applying for a job there. :)

Pitt said...

Hey!

I've just moved into Columbia Heights too. Not sure exactly where you are, but I'd recommend checking out Soul Vegetarian on Georgia, getting closer to Howard University. Also, on the corner of Georgia and Columbia is their sister location, Everlasting Life. It's a small grocery store but the best stuff is in the back: vegan mac'n'cheese and vegan ice cream smoothies!

-Pitt

T said...

Thanks for the suggestions, guys!

And Pitt, I have a feeling I know who you are... I keep running into you online so much, now I just need to bump into you in real life! Maybe I'll see you at Soul Veg.

Pitt Stains said...

Eep! Running into me online? What have I been doing online? I'm going to have to have a talk with myself about that!

I'm always up for meeting the neighbors, especially ones who know how to cook delicious vegan food :-) Name the time and the spice... er, place.

seitanismymotor said...

I also think moving is pretty exiting! I hope you will love your new place.
Well done on the unplugging. It's great to hear that you are enjoying your new freetime. I also don't have a facebook account, my mobile phone is switched on for about ten minutes a day, and I don't have a car. And I don't feel deprived at all.

kittee said...

Columbia Heights is pretty cool, I have friends there and got to visit a few times in recent trips. I met my husband while he was a law student in DC, good luck with that--The Bar should definitely be added to that list of yours, I will allegedly "hurt" him before I let him study for another (we've gone through two so far).

xo
kittee