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“Dear PoPville,

This is what Sherman Circle has looked like for days. The pocket parks around are just as bad – no sidewalks or pathways cleared. In the Spring the NPS takes too long to cut the grass, in Winter they ignore the ice. Earlier this week folks were walking in the street in the circle – I guess it was safer than falling on the ice.”

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and while I sympathize with the early wake up I still gotta file the following under damned if you do and damned if you don’t:

“As you know, this Saturday we got a snow storm that gave us lots of snow and ice. I hope/expect that our neighbors will shovel the next day to make the sidewalks safe for walking around. However, this Saturday night/crack of dawn Sunday, we were woken up at 4am by people shoveling/chipping away at the ice on the sidewalk across the street. It was REALLY LOUD and this went on for two hours until they finally finished, so we were kept awake from 4-6am because of this. This seemed a little absurd. It is possible that it could have been a church doing it for their Sunday morning service, but still, 4am seems a little crazy for shoveling ice and waking everyone up. I know there is a law that people have to shovel/de-ice their sidewalks within a day or so of the precipitation, but is there a law banning people from loudly shoveling ice in the middle of the night within the city? Or just common courtesy?”

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Photo by PoPville flickr user Mike Maguire

“Dear PoPville,

Last Tuesday (the snow day), I fainted while I was going down the escalator into the Columbia Heights metro. It was pretty scary–I was standing on the escalator not feeling so great, and then, the next thing I knew, I was lying at the bottom of the escalator with a big cut on my head. But what made it SO much better was the kindness of other Metro passengers. I remember three women, in particular, who stopped to make sure I was ok and then stayed with me until the ambulance came to get me. They were so comforting and kind; I think I would have totally panicked if they weren’t there. One of them let me borrow her phone to call my husband, another ran to get help, etc., and they all stayed and talked with me, which made me feel a lot better and less scared. I don’t remember any of their names, but on the off chance they read this, I wanted to say thank you! (The WMATA employees and EMTs who helped me were also really great–very sympathetic and professional.) I ended up having to get three stitches in my forehead, but the doctor otherwise gave me a clean bill of health, and I got the stitches removed yesterday!”

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Photo by PoPville flickr user brunofish

The following was written by anonymous. If there’s something you feel strongly about that you think should be shared, don’t hesitate to email me at princeofpetworth@gmail.com

Depressed in the District

I’ve lived in DC for the past three years and consistently struggle with depression. The young professional bubble, with its unyielding insistence on happy hours, Ann Taylor outfits, and impressive career tracks, can be quite challenging for the depressed. I recently found myself spiraling into a familiar black hole, with work, faltering relationships, and my dreary routine all leading me to question the point of everything. Although I spend a good amount of my time in such black holes, I’ve slowly gotten better at crawling out of them over time. I’m certainly not an expert, but I humbly offer you some tips that have helped me get through the bad days. Take what you like and leave the rest!

1) This one’s obvious, but I’ll say it anyway: Get help if you need it, whether it’s therapy, medication, or a combination of the two. If you are able, shop around until you find a therapist you jive with. It took me a few tries to find a therapist who gets me, so don’t give up.

2) Reach out to people, but don’t become dependent: Absolutely reach out to your family and close friends when you need them. At the same time, I think it’s important to learn to trust yourself and not become dependent on validation from others, because no one can be there at all times. Relying on yourself can also be a confidence booster and make the next dark phase feel just a little more manageable.

3) Be comfortable with doing things alone. Whether you just moved here and haven’t made friends yet, are victim to DC’s merciless cycle of friend turnover, or just can’t get anyone to respond to your texts, doing things by yourself is a valuable skill. This goes with the tip above about not getting dependent on people; plow ahead with your plans regardless of who’s joining. Next step: Make some plans (see below).

4) Go to open mic and comedy nights: There’s at least one open mic event every night of the week. I love Bloombars open mic nights as well as stand up around the district. These are the best because you get to see a different side of people – less networky, more raw. Also, unlike at work, self-deprecation, depression, and general mediocrity are popular topics. At least for me, one of the hardest parts about being depressed in DC is feeling like an alien among people who – at least on the surface – seem successful, happy, and productive. Open mic nights help expose me to DC-ers who I might not have encountered otherwise and tone down those feelings of isolation and failure. Also, comedy makes you laugh.

5) Explore different neighborhoods: Sometimes when things feel stagnant, I’ll just pick a random place in DC to explore (often by myself). Even though it can be a monumental challenge to get myself outside, being in a new environment that isn’t usually featured in my daily routine gives me energy. If you are so inclined, bring along a sketchbook or camera.

6) Find comforting local haunts: Keep a list of places – coffee shops, museums, bookstores – that you can’t help but feel good in and make yourself visit them frequently when you feel down. (One of my favorites is Kramer Books in Dupont.) Use #5 as an opportunity to expand your list. (more…)

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“Dear PoPville,

Yesterday at the entrance to the CVS drugstore (Farragut North Metro entrance) was a middle age lady at the door asking any and every one that entered for some help. Now, mind you she didn’t just ask for change or a dollar she asked for deodorant, soap and toothpaste. I told her I would try on my out. As I was inside in line about to be checked out with the items she requested and my own. I observed several people leaving CVS and handing over to her soap, deodorant and toothpaste! She was racking up. I quietly put her requested items back and purchased what I came in the store for and left. She was still standing at the door, still begging. What do you do with aggressive, bold panhandlers??

Another panhandler that really hounds you to death is this old age bearded African American guy that stands in front of the 7-eleven and Au Bon Pain restaurant on 19th Street N.W. asking for someone to get him something to eat. I’ve seen people hand out dollars and he’s still standing there asking for more. How would you handle this. I see him there every day.”

I would either give him/her a dollar or I would move on.

If they were persistent I’d handle it the same way I do with persistent political canvassers – I say “sorry not today” and keep walking. If you are actually threatened of course call the police. If you are only annoyed, just keep walking. If you feel compassionate, give a dollar or more. I assure you this person is not living the high life surrounded by luxurious deodorants and toothpaste and laughing about her day’s exploits.

I’m sorry for being blunt. Occasionally we do encounter truly aggressive and violent panhandlers out there but I just don’t think the situations you described above would make me feel threatened. I’d also encourage you to read the person first project to give a better insight into the homeless population.

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“Dear PoPville,

I am at my wits end as to what to do with my living situation. I live next door (rowhouse condo) to three unruly undergrads who throw constant parties (sometimes multiple times a week) with numerous guests well past midnight. I’ve called the police, their landlord, the university and even spoke to one tenant’s parents whom I happened to run into one day during the school’s parents’ weekend. The police come about half the time, usually settle them down for a few minutes, but they simply wait for a while before cranking the music back up and reconvening the keg-stand chants. I sent a certified letter to the landlord (who lives in Virginia) threatening legal action, but I’m not even sure what legal action I have? Small claims court? Sue him to commence eviction proceedings on his tenants? Monetary damages? How bad does it have to be before the police will issue a citation? I need to wake up early for work and it’s been having a major detrimental impact on my quality of life. Any suggestions?”

NastyCarNote

“Dear PoPville,

Let me set the scene:

I’m a 30-something car owner living in a rented Mt. Pleasant basement apartment. Despite the fact that I am ‘only’ a renter, I’m a midwesterner who considers neighborliness a duty and a joy so I have gone out of my way to introduce myself to my neighbors, to get to know them, and to live fully and civilly on my block. I’m the guy that tries to shovel my neighbors’ sidewalk when I can, I pick up litter, I put a little sweat into beautifying a neglected front yard for my neighbors to enjoy, and I try to keep a watchful eye on the neighborhood. I’m the neighbor who says hello. I’m the neighbor in the building who will bring your packages indoors to keep them safe. I’m the neighbor who will run for blocks after a truck that sideswiped your parked car, get the plate #, and leave you a note. In short, like a lot of your readers, I’m the neighbor that cares not just about the value of comprables but about the well being of my neighbors.

I also own a car that has a factory-installed, non-overly-sensitive, anti-theft alarm. As a renter without off-street parking, I must park it on the street. When I hear car alarms go off I rush to the street to make sure that my car is not the offender. It has not had problems in the past. After a restful night, four basement brick walls removed from the noises of Lamont Street NW, I found the following under the windshield wiper of my car in front of my apartment in the heart of Mt. Pleasant [photo above].

It reads:
“Please get your car alarm repaired. It’s been going off for hours. You’re very close to getting a rock through your window for keeping the whole block up.”

At first, like anyone who has suddenly been made aware of car trouble, I was met by a terrible sinking feeling. The kind of feeling that only inconvenience and repair bills can wreak. I was then also crestfallen by the idea that the car trouble I was unaware of might have kept my neighbors up. But when I got to the final sentence all of those emotions were slain by a knife to the heart. An anonymous threat from one of the very people that I care about? How hurtful, how dreadful, how eyeopening.

In light of this experience I would like to implore all PoPville citizens to attempt the following when leaving any neighborhood note:

Consider the fact that you do not fully know the person to whom you are writing, consider in fact that this may be because you, and not they, have been bereft in your neighborliness. Consider for a moment that the world does not revolve around only you and try to muster a healthy dose of introspection and objective critical thinking. Consider for a moment, that if you took the time to get to know your neighbors, you would be able to alert the subject of your note to their problems and your concerns in person and in a much more constructive manner.

In cases of car alarm malfunctions also consider that your note might be the first notice of the need for potentially costly repairs.

In short, be mindful and reasonable. Consider that it is a lot more likely that a car parked outside your house belongs to a neighbor unaware of the problem than it does to a person that enjoys annoying their neighbors. It might belong to someone a lot more like you than you think.”