Enter the 2012 DCist Exposed Photography Show… Everyone’s Doing It!

2011 DC Tweed Ride

Do I have a four-figure priced DSLR camera? No.

Do I even have one of those mildly-priced, ultracool Nikon Coolpix that Ashton Kutcher sports with seductive eyes during every commercial break? Uh. No.

Despite this, I’ve managed to take a few fairly nice photos this year using borrowed cameras from friends and a few Sprint smartphone devices. Managing public relations for the company allows me to test out new products so I can become proficient enough on their stellar photo and video capabilities and of course, show them off to potential and current Sprint customers.

After taking stock of my small photo collection from this year, I’ve decided to submit a few pics into selection pool of the 2012 DCist Exposed Photography Show. Hoping the entry above becomes a serious contender, along with this one and this one.

My coworker, John Taylor, is also throwing his hat into the ring. This is my favorite of his three entries.

If you have some great 2011 Washington, D.C. area photos that you think are worthy of the 2012 DCist Exposed Photography Show, I encourage you to submit them today… or next week. The submission deadline is 11:59 p.m. ET on Wednesday, January 11, 2012.

Make sure to read and follow the rules carefully. I’ll make sure to keep my fingers crossed for you.

Are Successful Young Adult Writers Assholes?

Truth. Underneath a sometimes snarky personality, I have aspirations of one day becoming an author of children’s and young adult books.

This weekend, I partook in a showing of Charlize Theron’s Young Adult – an ode to the snarkiest, most insecure and disorder laden writer to ever be created for the big screen.

Enjoying the movie and Theron’s writing scenes immensely – albeit its truly sad moments – I wondered if my path to book writing success included a transformation to assholedom, which is the best way to describe the beginning and conclusion of the protagonist’s (aka Mavis Gary’s) tale.

Then my sister-in-law forward me the following tweet from Diane Von Furstenberg:

Throw your insecurities in the garbage and start the year being your best friend. Love Diane

For the DVF fans, I have at least five wrap dresses lovingly hung in my closet. That assholedom transformation idea is dead… for now.

Who are football players, really?

Football in Grass
Photo courtesy of Jayel Aheram via Flickr.com

Football players aren’t people who leave home to try and play football. They are football players who come home to try and play people.

~ Peter Gent, former NFL wide receiver, Michigan State University basketball player and novelist

I heard the above quote during the 2011 finale of HBO’s “Real Sports With Bryant Gumbel” which aired this week.

As the regular seasons of the NFL and NCAA Football end, the playoffs and bowl games begin and some of our favorite players return to everyday life, let’s remember who they really are (e.g. Michael Vick, Plaxico Burress, Tim Tebow and The Buckeyes of Ohio State University).

Click here to view the “Real Sports” story “Short Changed” to see what I mean. 

A Masterpiece Slideshow

We’re four days away from Christmas!

Some of my friends are in fast and furious mode with their holiday shopping, as well as making extra-special homemade gifts like the one Dominique is seen working on above.

Want to see how her art project slash holiday gift started as a blank canvas (see above) and transformed into a masterpiece (see below)?

Check out the following Picasa Album on my Google+ page!

My Absolutely Charming Encounter With Harry Belafonte

Signed copy of Harry Belafonte’s “My Song”

Having one’s heart heavily set on meeting the most dynamic and ground breaking African American actor, humanitarian, civil rights revolutionary, and political activist in history is hard to bear when that hope is dashed in mere seconds.

Arriving to the original Busboys & Poets in Washington, D.C. a little over thirty minutes before Harry Belafonte’s appearance proved pointless and frankly, dumb. Plans to get there over an hour prior with one of my gal pals crashed and burned with a last-mintue arts and crafts run to Michael’s (I’m making a jewelry box for one of my mentee’s Christmas gifts).

The line outside the esteemed restaurant slash cultural hub was more than 100-plus individuals long. Couple that with a blustery overcast, forty-three degree temperature, and an already packed establishment, Dominique, I and another friend who was circling for a parking space quickly bailed on the idea of hearing Harry Belafonte’s sage wisdom up close and personal.

Dominique and I retired our plans directly across the street to Eatonville (also owned by Busboys’ founder Andy Shallal) in an effort to eat, drown our disappointments in a fancy libation mix, wait until Belafonte’s talk was over and at least try to get our books signed. Luckily, we were smart enough to purchase copies of My Song: A Memoir at Busboys the day prior.

This is when fate decided to enter into the picture and take pity on us. Crap. Perhaps it was a Christmas miracle. 

Upon being granted instant seating, my gal pal quickly declined two table options that were offered to us – one was too tight and the other too close to the front door.

The hostess then graciously gave us a table on the opposite end of the restaurant and near its open kitchen. Thankfully, my friend was pleased. Feeling so dejected about missing the event, I, honestly, was fine with the first table we were offered.

Well, shame on me for not being the picky diner, because mere moments after she drops her bag at our table and heads to bathroom, Harry Belafonte walks by Dominique’s chair on his way back from the bathroom.

After sitting in shock for a few seconds, gripping the table to the point of almost getting splinters and crying inside for Dominique to return quickly, I thought that this might be our one and only chance to meet him and get our books signed.

Dominique returns, I tell her Belafonte is about four tables to our right and we decide to catch him at the door before he and his entourage walked across the street for the event.

About eight minutes passed before we made our move to the door. Belafonte enters the doorway with the help of his son, smiles at us, says hi, sees my book and happily signs my copy, along with Dominique’s. We must have repeated “thank you, Mr. Belafonte” at least six times.

Next comes the most charming thing to happen to me in my lifetime. Before departing, Belafonte gives me a long and slow look over, looks directly into my eyes and says “I love the hair”. 

I gasped, smiled uncontrollably, covered my mouth and blushed. Any chance of me EVER changing my current hairstyle died today. 

P.S. If you don’t know Harry Belafonte’s story, haven’t purchased his book yet, but subscribe to HBO, please try to watch “Sing Your Song”. It’s a really great cinematic look at his life, work and passions. 

Harry Belafonte’s “My Song”

Visiting the White House: Ten Years Later

The White House South Court Auditorium

Exactly one week ago, a native New Yorker who’s resided in the Washington, D.C. metro area since 2002 took her first official trip to the White House.

Yes. I’ve lived no more than eight miles from 1600 Pennsylvania for the past ten years, and have even done numerous marathon training runs past the building, but had never actually been inside its marbled and columned walls until now.

Luckily, this was no ordinary visit. Thanks to the amazing work of Kori Schulman, I joined over a hundred lucky other attendees from across the country for the 2011 White House Holiday Tweetup.

In addition to the fabulous photos I snapped of the tweetup event and the White House Holiday Tour, here are the top five things I learned from the White House senior staffers who gave us a very engaging presentation and thoughtful discussion:

  1. The lovely illustrations in the White House 2011 Holiday Guide Book were created by students of Washington, D.C.’s Corcoran College of Art & Design. This school is actually located across the street from the White House and 2011 marks the second year Corcoran students have undertaken this project. 
  2. The White House online engagement and petition initiative – “We The People” – has had thirty petitions receive an official White House review and response. To attain this great distinction, a petition has to receive 25,000 signatures of support within thirty days of its creation. 
  3. According to White House Pastry Chef, Bill Yosses, President Obama’s favorite dessert is pie. So much so, that the President has nicknamed Yosses the “crust master” due to his astounding penchant for making the pie-filling accompaniment ever-so perfectly flaky and tasty.
  4. If you don’t plan to be bogged down with your own holiday planning next year and have a desire to help decorate the most famous house in the world, mark your calendar to apply for the White House Holiday Volunteers Program in March 2012. Information will be available on whitehouse.gov by that time and can also be accessed by calling the White House Office of Engagement. Volunteers are selected in September and October. I’m sure Michelle and Barack would love your assistance. 
  5. If you have a Twitter account and haven’t done so already, follow: Macon PhillipsJon Carson, Aneesh Chopra, and Joining Forces. You’re guaranteed to learn much more about the work of President Obama, Mrs. Obama and the White House’s four hundred employees if you do so today. 

Mosaic Madness

Earlier this year I became a volunteer with Space of Her Own (SOHO) – a mentoring program for eleven and twelve year-old girls that originated in Richmond, Va. and spread to Alexandria, Va.

In addition to having a emphasis on life and professional skills, the program also incorporates a weekly session devoted to arts projects that will lead to the eventual redesign of each girl’s bedroom at the end of the school year.

During our first one-on-one mentor/mentee session back in October, I took my mentee, Makaylah, to Paint This – a ceramics studio located in Old Town Alexandria. The photo above is of a mosaic that I made thanks to the very attentive and helpful Paint This staff.

As the days get colder and eventually, snowier, creating mosaics is definitely a nice activity for anyone parent, grandparent or mentor with a desire to expose a child to their artistic side and perhaps, inspire the next Squire Vickers.

*Side Note* Makaylah and I also had a nice serving of decadent treats at Alexandria Cupcakes beforehand. It’s located directly across the street from Paint This and Makaylah recommends strawberry and coconut. 😉