see you in a few hours, dc!

Photo credit

This morning I read one of Kaileen Elise’s Creative Weekend To Do Lists and felt inspired to write my own!

I’m headed up to DC around lunchtime today. Here’s what’s in store {subject to change based on the whims of three twenty-something girls!}:

  • Solo road trip with Boyfriend, Give Your Heart a Break, and Back in Time. And probably Ridin’ Solo, since it’s fitting
  • Pit stops for coffee and bubble gum {gotta have bubble gum on road trips!}
  • Jazz in the Garden with sangria
  • A night out at the Bottom Line, one of our favorite college bars
  • Brunch, most likely with bottomless mimosas
  • Tons of picture taking- with my SLR and Instagram
  • Dressing up in my city clothes ūüôā
  • Wandering through different DC neighborhoods
  • Nostalgic¬†reminiscing¬†about our amazing DC college days
  • Catching up for hours with two of my best friends
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portfolio finds


As I was packing up my apartment, I stumbled across the career portfolio I made during a junior year class. It was the making of this portfolio that spawned this business idea¬†{I didn’t end up pursuing it but I still love the idea}.

Coincidentally, I designed the portfolio exactly two years ago today (March 23, 2010)! I browsed through the portfolio and saw some funny things.

Screenshot of my Twitter account

  • I had 111 followers on Twitter; I now have over 800
  • My most recent tweet on that day read “@ryanallis- I’m excited to read your blog- I’m from Durham and involved with social enterprise in DC!” I was so excited back then about the possibility of meeting Ryan; we’ve actually hung out since then {and he reads this blog sometimes- you out there Ryan?}. Funny how things come full circle
  • I had also tweeted about my amazing spring break in Puerto Rico; my friend just commented on a Facebook picture the other day to remind us how much fun we had

My LinkedIn account

  • I had 83 connections; now I have over 500
  • My current title then was “Analyst Intern at Social Enterprise Associates”

Hobbies

  • Pretty much reads like my current blog bio haha. Outdoor activities, playing board games, traveling, volunteering, and cooking, among others

Miscellaneous

  • I also came across two interesting op-eds on microfinance, which I still agree with!
  • I talked about Community Building Community and Alternative Breaks
  • I wrote a few of my ideas for post-grad: working within the field of social enterprise in DC or Raleigh {I actually mentioned Bull City Forward, which is a coworking space!}; spending a year abroad; or entering a MBA program. I didn’t do any of these per se, but I did end up starting a coworking space, which you could say is a social venture ūüôā

So fun to look over! It reminded me of my 6 word memoir– fundamentally, I’m the same as I was two years ago, but I’ve evolved- both personally¬†and¬† in terms of my Twitter following haha.

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“is it for your sorority party?”

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Last Tuesday, my sister and I went shopping for fun, sparkly dresses for our Raleighwood party. As we perused the shoe section, we chatted with the sales guy. We told him we were hosting a big party and he laughingly {deprecatingly, may I add} asked “Is it a sorority party?”

We laughed back and quickly retorted “No, it’s for the business we own.”

A similar thing happened today at the gym- our buddy at the front desk asked where we went to school, so we told her that not only where we no longer in school, we ran a downtown business.

Is it our fresh-faced youthful look that makes people question us? Or perhaps the way we act giddy and silly when we’re together?

One thing’s for sure- I love seeing the look of shock on people’s faces when they hear that two bubbly young adults own a downtown business.

For me, it’s a learning experience: it’s important to strike a balance between being yourself¬†{Valley girl voice inflections and all} and coming across as sophisticated, professional, and put together. I guess it’s a work in progress ūüėČ

throwback: alternative breaks nola

I’ve been thinking a lot about the past, largely in part because TAPI IS COMING TO VISIT ME IN NC! Longgg story short, Tapi is my friend Dominique- we¬†circuitously took this nickname for ourselves during our Alternative Breaks trip to Belize, where we spent every minute together and really solidified our friendship (which is based on a fondness of scary movies, a penchant for prank calls, and true love).

I don’t wish I was back in college because I love where I am now, but I do love looking back at all of my fun memories every once in awhile. Is it strange that I love a good dose of nostalgia every so often?

Alternative Breaks were such a huge part of my college experience. If you’re still in school and haven’t done one- DO IT. You will not regret it. For 7-10 days, you are surrounded by the coolest, most passionate, dedicated, and fun group of young changemakers.

Here’s a video of my second Alternative Breaks trip to New Orleans. Don’t judge how hideous I look please! It was uncharacteristically freezing in NOLA, hence the ridiculous outfit ūüôā

AWB NOLA 2010 Highlights from AWB NOLA on Vimeo.

raleigh- reflecting on my decision to return to my homeland!

If you had asked me freshman year- or even junior year- if I would ever move back to North Carolina, I would- and did- laugh. “Absolutely not,” I would say. To me, North Carolina was just an incidental stop- albeit an eighteen year stop- on my way to bigger and better things. Hence my decision to attend The George Washington University in Washington, DC- ¬†a city that is both geographically and culturally between the North and the South.

But here I stand (while, I’m technically lying in bed) a college graduate and in 51 short days, I’ll be moved into an adorable one bedroom apartment near downtown Raleigh, conveniently located approximately .01 miles from my big sister’s condo.

After taking a 4 year break from the Triangle, I realize it really does have it all.

I can drive with the windows down and the radio blasting. The baristas at Starbucks know my order. Strangers in the photo store start conversations about Habitat for Humanity. The volunteer scene is bumpin’ (yeahhh Change the Triangle). Chamber of Commerce staff members take the time to provide an in-depth and personalized response to my form email inquiry. The weather is stunningly beautiful the majority of the time. People are active- hiking, biking, running, etc. Smoking is banned from bars and restaurants. There are several cool co-working spaces. It was named #3 on Best Places to Launch [a business] in 2009 and #8 on Best Cities for Recent College Grads. There is a kitchen incubator¬†nearby (in Durham). Interesting places like CAM Raleigh open everyday. My sister is a hop, skip, and a 30 second drive away. There are hundreds of off-the-beaten path day trips accessible from Raleigh-Durham [I bought that book for my sister and plan to make good use of it]. The mountains and the beach are both within several hours’ drive. There are several lakes nearby, including Kerr, Jordan, and Lake Johnson. Live music events like Thursdays at North Hills and Fridays at Seaboard Station fill the summer. Cool concerts come to the Lincoln Theater, the Raleigh¬†Amphitheater, and Time Warner Pavillon all the time. Events like First Friday, Cuegrass, and the St. Patty’s Day Parade are a nearly everyday occurrence. LivingSocial has an awesome selection of local deals here. Hardware store employees bring treats for your dogs. People spend summer nights grilling and playing corn-hole in their yards. It’s perfectly acceptable to go out at night in Rainbow flip flops. The rent is absurdly affordable. Trader Joe’s has established stores in the area. Triangle Sports Club has fun intramural leagues for young professionals. Meetup groups are active and many.

It’s the best of both worlds- a big city with a small town feel. Cultural events are incredibly accessible, but there is still a warm “down home” feeling when you walk down the street. I’m proud to call myself a [future] Raleigh resident.

and it’s here…

Grad Week is coming to a close and Commencement Weekend is about to, well, commence.

  • Sunset Kayaking and Sunrise Tequilas with LivingSocial was really fun…I think all the girls were most excited about our buffalo wings post-kayaking haha
  • My post-graduation job is officially solidified- I’ll be transitioning to the recruiting team of LivingSocial, working virtually from Raleigh
  • On Wednesday I babysat for one of my favorite babies, a little ten-month-old girl. The job entails playing with her and cooking- pretty much couldn’t ask for anything better!
  • On Thursday my dad got into town, so we had brunch at my favorite spot and then both did our separate work at a table in Starbucks
  • We then went to dinner with my freshman roommate and her parents, which was SO fun. We decided to forego typical fancy graduation dinner places and settled on Mei Wah, our freshman year throwback. Her parents are so incredibly sweet- her mom has been sending me care packages since I was a freshman, so I gave her a small gift (a beautiful candle from Israel and Burt’s Bees from Durham, NC!). I want to be that thoughtful to my kids’ friends when I grow up!
  • My roommate and I met up with some other friends for a few drinks- and I ended up getting great advice from my friend’s dad, who is a restauranteur! Side note: I love being at a stage in life where people feel comfortable inviting their parents out for the night with their friends. My friend and I got into a long discussion on interacting with parents. We feel that it comes so naturally for us to “chat it up” with parents, but we realize that it makes some people our age really nervous. I think it says a lot about how we were raised that we’re so at ease. So thanks Mom!
To come:
  • Another day of babysitting- that makes a 36 hour workweek, which practically makes me a real adult
  • My sister and her friend, who is basically an honorary Roman, get in tonight, so we’ll be having a girls night out
  • I get to see my brother, his wife, and my stepdad for my school graduation tomorrow- yeah CCAS!
  • Dinner at one of my favorite spots near my place, then rooftop cocktails…and probably a lot of rounds of charades and Taboo. Welcome to my family!
  • Big graduation on the National Mall then brunch at home (in my courtyard)…we decided a low key brunch would be less stressful for everyone, especially baby nephew
  • North Carolina for a few days!
I’m so so excited to see the “R-Unit” (the name of the Roman clan haha) and celebrate with them. Some people dread seeing their families, I LOVE it.
Next time I blog, I’ll be an official college graduate, so get ready!!

in retrospect: the last 4 years

I was recently sitting on my roof watching the sunset (so cliche, right?) and it struck me how soon I’ll be done with college. It’s been a whirlwind four years- full of infinite fantastic things, many challenges, and a whole bunch of personal growth!

Even the fact that I can openly advertise my love of cooking, reading Better Homes and Gardens, and staying in for a relaxed Saturday night indicates how much more comfortable I’ve become with myself over the years. Of course I still have my insecurities and doubts, but I fundamentally love who I am. I especially love that I can live a life of balance- being able to enjoy a crazy night out with friends while also appreciating the “dorkier” things in life!

In no particular order:

  • Made incredible friends- some I have fallen out of touch with; others will be my bridesmaids (in the very distant future haha)
  • Joined a sorority; disaffiliated from said sorority
  • Had several jobs and internships- a law firm, The Washington Diplomat, Social Enterprise Associates, Ashoka, & LivingSocial
  • Had a million random adventures that I will always remember [late night runs to Waffle House, breakfast in Tenleytown after Relay for Life, Cinco de Mayo fun, etc. Wayyyy too many to count]
  • Started two little businesses- GW Bites and my Twitter management company, CMR Enterprises
  • Met a few [semi] famous people- David Bornstein, Bill Drayton, Thomas Friedman, & Ben Stein
  • Saw Obama and Hillary Clinton speak during my first week of freshman year
  • Fell in love with the idea of social enterprise
  • Volunteered in Belize, New Orleans, & DC
  • Co-founded a student organization
  • Helped bring Compass Partners to GW
  • Had my freshman year roommate become one of my best friends
  • Fell in love with North Carolina after I had a chance to distance myself from it for awhile
  • Conquered a “big city”
  • Had some great roommates but love living alone my last year
  • Found, rented, and decorated my own studio apartment
  • Fell back in love with cooking
  • Made the difficult- but ultimately right- decision not to go abroad
  • Spent summers in North Carolina, New Orleans, and DC
  • Became insanely close with my sister
  • Became obsessed with Twitter
  • Stayed in touch with my best friend from home
  • Took a whole buncha classes- some fascinating and thought-provoking, others less so
  • Took Arabic for a year
  • Went to Puerto Rico, Guatemala, Belize, & Israel
  • Babysat for countless families
  • Continued my Starbucks addiction
  • Met a million great acquaintances
  • Inherited two amazing sisters-in-law and the most precious baby nephew in the world
  • Spent hours pondering the future
  • Watched every Friends episode about twelve times
  • Laughed and cried for hours
  • Started this blog as a way to document my daily life; expanded it into a cooking blog
  • Was at the White House the night Obama was elected. Was on the Mall the day he was inaugurated.
  • Watched as Twitter exploded with the news of Osama Bin Laden’s death
  • Volunteered at the Washington Diplomat’s golf tournament for four straight years

This short list doesn’t even begin to do justice to my four years at The George Washington University. I still vividly remember the first week of college- standing awkwardly with hundreds of freshmen outside Thurston, waiting to figure out where the “cool” spots were. Dinner with my roommate’s parents at Pizza I. Roaming the hallways and elevators with my brand-new friends to try to meet even more new people.

And I will always remember this final week of senior year: crazy adventures with my close friends. Reflecting on the past four years. Looking forward to the next chapter of life. Solidifying my job for after graduation. And starting tomorrow, celebrating my successes with my family- and commemorating the college graduation of the last of the Robert Roman clan!

So here’s to embracing the future but holding the past with us always. And as we move on to the next bigger and better things, let’s be sure to remember the moments- both good and bad- that got us where we’re going.

recap: last week of undergrad

Four whole days since my last post! Sorry for slacking; I’ve been busy livin’ up my last few weeks of undergrad!

Highlights

  • Last exam ever (until grad school), including my last night studying for hours in the on-campus Starbucks
  • Two Nationals game (one with friends, one with co-workers)
  • Cinco de Mayo roof party
  • Washington Diplomat golf tournament (grilling, driving golf carts, delivering beers to ambassadors. You know, the usual)
  • Hours on the roof with friends and/or books!
  • A bajillion emails to potential GW Bites investors
  • Summer trip to Norway booked
Coming up:
  • Patio grilling (today!)
  • Last Arganica produce box AND $25 worth of random, awesome stuff
  • Mothers’ Day (how do I send flowers to Rwanda?!)
  • LivingSocial Adventure- Sunset Kayaking and Tequila Sunrises
  • Babysitting for my two favorite babies
  • Launch party for theStrEATS
  • GRADUATION- a whole weekend with family and friends ūüôā
P.S. Did you notice that I added pages to my blog? Check out the “Mentions” tab and the “Connect with Me” tab!