by August 10, 2012 at 8:00 am 1,340 0

From Candida Mannozzi. You can reach her at candida[AT]


Enjoying the neighborhood. (Luis Gomez Photos)

Borderstan, lately I’ve had the good luck to receive several different expressions of friendship, encouragement, recognition or affection. I’ve also felt quite lucky to have things and people to look forward to every day, at work and outside the office. It may well be due to my oncoming middle age, but for some reason these experiences (that could be considered details in a long day, or mere happenstances) make me feel very happy and grateful.

I have been a CrossFit “apprentice” since last November and I’ve absolutely fallen for this high-energy, intense, challenging and rewarding workout regimen. It’s the ideal kind of exercise for Type A personalities like mine (!), as there’s always a new challenge, heavier weight, faster pace, longer distance (you get the picture) to aim for.

Well, I was absolutely stunned when our in-house star athlete, who has competed in the past four CrossFit Games and done us incredibly proud, offered to let me borrow her powerlifting shoes on occasion, as she thought they’d give me an extra “edge” in those exercises! I literally felt I’d been given “big shoes to fill,” novice that I am. (I tried her shoes on two separate occasions and have to say, they DO help. Now I’m in the market for my own pair.)

It was incredibly rewarding to feel recognized and encouraged in this way, especially in a discipline that’s quite new to me and has been bringing me so much joy and satisfaction!

Similarly, I’ve had a summer packed with meals, outings, parties, brunches, yoga workshops, impromptu happy hours, etc. with family and good new and old friends in which we’ve enjoyed each other, great food, movies, sports, the arts, and conversations on topics that have expanded my views or knowledge, giving me much food for thought and happy memories. Again, I’ve felt enriched and rewarded by the kinds of people I am lucky to spend time with and the things we choose to share.

Blame it on middle-age onset, as I said, but for some reason I feel as though I’m living a charmed life in our fantastic ‘hood, where amazing people, great conversations, exciting activities, and easy relaxation are all available without even requiring major effort or hassle to attain them. I don’t feel I can take this magical cornucopia for granted.

While I do think we shape our world and our lives to some extent, I also believe we’re not the sole actors of our destiny, and that some pieces of our life-puzzle remain firmly beyond our grasp and control. I have to say that in the over fourteen years I’ve lived in this part of town, life has most definitely improved, friends have multiplied, the neighborhood has grown happily and well and I am one of many reaping the benefits.

Borderstan, hooray! Here’s wishing that you can all happily live it up in our wonderful ‘hood!

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by May 15, 2012 at 10:00 am 3,149 5 Comments


Guys, don't show your junk on the balcony, and that includes ALL of your junk. (Luis Gomez Photos)

From Mary El Pearce. Follow her on Twitter@CupcakesDC and email her at maryelp[At]

When I first moved into my apartment, I was pleased with the courtyard view I shared with half of the other residents. My unit sits in the dip of the U-shaped building, so the view is really more of the neighbors than of a pretty courtyard. I imagined lounging on my balcony with a book and glass of lemonade and making light conversation with everyone else doing the same thing.

While it hasn’t been exactly what I imagined, the way I’m situated has proved to be quite pleasant and advantageous. More than once I’ve locked myself out and relied on my neighbors to let me balcony hop over to my apartment, and other neighbors have given me eggs and wine when I was in dire straits.

What hasn’t been pleasant are the neighbors across the way who have very loud fights on their balcony, slamming their sliding glass door again and again in fits of rage and screaming, “IT’S OVER!” (and we all desperately hope they mean it this time, but they never do). But this isn’t even the worst offense.

During peaceful times in their tumultuous relationship, they tend to their various plants in their underwear. And these are not the types of bodies one might enjoy gazing upon first thing in the morning. Their flabby, hairy, washed out and sagging skin is only briefly interrupted by ratty, tighty-dingies (cannot be described as “whities”) that accentuate their limp, bulging packages. Up until last week that’s the most I had seen of either of them.

Then — oh, help me — I was sipping my coffee last Saturday, admiring the stillness of the morning under the rising sun, when a motion across the way caught my eye. And there he was, in all his glory, pulling back the curtains sans anything. My mouth dropped open and coffee dribbled out — the shock sent me into a temporarily comatose state. Then I gagged. Where was this man raised, in a nudist colony?

Dude, Urban Etiquette 101: Keep your junk off the balcony.

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by April 3, 2012 at 2:00 pm 1,380 0

"Borderstan" "People" "Street""14th Street"

Strangers are just friends I haven’t met. (Luis Gomez Photos)

From Candida Mannozzi. You can reach her at candida[AT]

Borderstan, since a few of my recent posts were a bit more critical of some of the behaviors I’ve observed in our ‘hood, I wanted to share this anecdote with you. I was recently all the way (!) out in West Falls Church, on my way to a conference at the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), waiting to catch a connecting bus from the Metro station to get to the USGS.

Now, I am one of those lucky few who “commutes” to work on foot for less than 10 minutes, so I have no daily need for Metro, buses, cars or other means of transportation, be they public or private. This means I am one of those dinosaurs who does not own a SmartCard.

So here I was, a little before 8 a.m. at West Falls Church and I realized I did not have exact change for the connecting bus fare. In fact, I was one dollar short and had the typical $20 yuppie-stamp in my wallet. Of course, there was no vending machine, deli, coffee shop or anything similar available for me to break my $20. I walked up to the bus stop and asked the only lady standing there whether she could possibly break my bill. She didn’t have enough to do that, but she offered me a single instead. She just gave it to me.

I was so grateful and also very embarrassed at not having prepared for this commute properly, being forced to ask a complete stranger for money! It reminded me of the many times I’ve passed people on the street, panhandling for change and not getting very far.  And here I, on my first request, got the help I needed and a pleasant exchange in the bargain.  Our ensuing chat, as we waited for the bus, revealed that we’d both grown up in the same mountain range in the Alps, just on different sides of it: she in Austria, I in Italy.

My one “consolation” for being unprepared was to remember that I’ve done my share of good turns to total strangers (one of these developed into a friendship with a painter from Barcelona, whom I helped as she was trying to negotiate the ticket machines in the Dupont Circle Metro station). So perhaps my turn had come to be assisted, as I had done for others in the past.

All moralizing or conjecture aside, Borderstan, I wish all of us occasions in which to receive the kindness of strangers. May we also get some opportunities to practice that kindness on others. Happy Spring!

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