This is How to Talk About Yourself at Parties

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If anyone’s going to face an interrogation at a party, it’s someone like me– a full-time freelance writer and member of the creative class.

Parties are not for faking how invested you are in fishing the lime out of your drink or studying the molding in your host’s home. Parties are for socializing.

Inevitably, whether you’re in Washington, New York, or LA—the three biggest cities for hustlers—that means answering the question, “What do you do?” You can let that question incite anxiety and doubt or you can learn to answer it.

Maybe you hate what you do and are hoping for a change. Maybe you dread judgment. Maybe you wonder why our society places so much emphasis on professional identity and productivity (Answer: Capitalism.)

Maybe you’re afraid people simply won’t understand. Or maybe still, you’ve just been fired or laid off or quit your job without a backup plan. Any or all of these possibilities probably make your throat constrict and your palms sweat.

Some people want straightforward answers when they ask you what you do: “I’m a doctor/teacher/bakery shop owner.”

As writer Austin Kleon writes in his book, Show Your Work!: 10 Ways to Share Your Creativity and Get Discovered, “Have empathy for your audience. Anticipate blank stares. Be ready for more questions. Answer patiently and politely.”

Here are three ways to make that happen:

Paint a picture for your guests

Fellow party-goers assume I have a day job. Sure, I have a day job; but it’s also a night job and a weekend job. So to help them understand what my job looks like on a day-to- day basis, I paint a picture for them.

Some days it involves sitting at my laptop doing what I’m doing now—thinking and typing. Sometimes I venture out to interview people, take photos for a story, or install my art on site. When I’m not doing those things, I’m writing invoices, checking my mailbox, standing in line at the bank, and studying up to inform my work. When explaining what I do, I’ll say something along the lines of:

“I’m a full-time thinker.”

“I make things. Digital things”

You have tons of things you do at your job, too. Show your fellow guests what your job means.

Come up with anecdotes

No matter what you do, the answer is more than a single-word reply. It’s also more than rattling off your resume (probably the only way you can really mess up your answer is by bragging incessantly). You can better illustrate what your job entails by bringing up anecdote and telling stories. These tales can be funny or heartbreaking, but make them memorable. Give the other party guests a sense of what it’s really like to work your job. Even if you’re unemployed, you probably have a story about why.

Come up with an anecdote– a short, amusing story that brings your occupation to life. This tales can be funny or heartbreaking, but make it memorable. Give the other party guests a sense of what it’s really like to be you and the best parts of you that you bring to your job. Even if you’re unemployed, you probably have a story about how it happened.

Even if you’re unemployed, you’re most likely filling your time in the most interesting of ways. Are you making a point to fill your calendar with interesting meetings with interesting people?  Talk about those unforgettable experiences.

Let your guard down

People ask questions because they’re genuinely curious, not because they’re judging your line of work. Some professions are particularly mysterious to outsiders, while better-known jobs—like a lawyer, nurse, or fire fighter—have their own collection of stereotypes. By answering folks’ questions, you have the chance to clear up confusion and bust myths. Relax, be vulnerable and have fun.

After all, it is a party, right?

Christine Stoddard

“Anticipate blank stares. Be ready for more questions. Answer patiently and politely.”

— Austin Kleon
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Lunch Envy: Avocado Toast

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Meal prep. Shopping lists. When did it get so complicated to whip up a healthy (and perhaps even enviable)  lunch? I don’t know about you, but I get tired of eating out for lunch more than 3 times a week and I’m quickly bored of eating the same salad, sandwich, and frozen meal day in and day out.

Enter the avocado. Not only does it taste great, but I can fit this superfood into meals when I don’t have lots of time to spare. 

For a quick fix, make avocado toast

Just spread avocado (as much as you’d like) on a few of slices of toast and it’s ready to eat. Or top it with anything your heart desires: black pepper, salt (just a pinch), cayenne pepper, tomato slices, kimchi (a flavorful food that aids in digestion), dulse flakes (a sea vegetable high in vitamins, minerals, and protein), or any other ingredient you want to try.

Or just add avocados to you salad

If toast doesn’t do it for you or you’re trying to avoid wheat, another easy way to add avocados to your lunch is to add them to your salads or rice paper wraps. It goes great with greens, berries, nuts, and beans. Experiment and figure out what combinations work for your palate and your schedule.

Avocados are chock-full of good, monounsaturated fats. These wholesome fats help to reduce low-density lipoprotein (LDL), or bad cholesterol levels in the body, which have risen in recent decades due to an increase in processed foods in the Western diet. Avocados also contain omega-3 fatty acids, which promote heart and brain health, and are believed to help prevent Alzheimer’s disease. And because avocados are a great source of potassium, they also help control blood pressure levels.

Avocados are high in Vitamins A, C, E, and K, so they help protect your vision and immune system, promotes healthy blood clotting, and are high in antioxidants– which help defend the body against cancer and heart disease. They are a wonderful source of fiber, keeping you fuller longer, and a great anti-inflammatory and anti-aging food, nourishing the skin and joints. And in regards to skin, consuming avocados or avocado oil creates youthful-looking skin, protecting it from environmental damage.

Think of how soft and smooth an avocado is – incorporating more into your diet will help keep your own skin looking and feeling the same way for years to come.

Create lunch envy with this super fruit and your body will thank you. Happy lunching.

Catherine Miller

Essential Luncheons, Dinners, and After Parties at CBC Week 2016

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The Congressional Black Caucus Foundation’s Annual Legislative Conference (ALC) is upon us. This year, don’t just listen to the issues and attend the events, be part of the change.

ALC is an opportunity for young professionals to connect with our nation’s policy leaders and discuss the issues that matter most with the very people who can implement those changes.

Below, you’ll find an exhaustive list of the best luncheons, dinners, and parties of CBC week 2016. Let the networking begin. 

Monday, September 12

Evening Reception with Robin Smith
Where: Congressional Black Caucus Institute @ 413 New Jersey Ave SE | Time: 6 PM-8 PM

Vote To End H8! Community Block Party & March
McPherson Square @ 1518 M St. | 6 PM–7 PM

Viewing of the HBO Documentary Film SOLITARY
U.S. Capitol Visitor Center @ 1st and East Capitol St. | 7 PM-10 PM

Tuesday, September 13

The Communications Agency presents the 2016 Congressional Black Caucus ALC Preview
Texas de Brazil @ 455 Massachusetts Ave. NW | 6 PM-9 PM

Make Your Mark, Tell Your Story, Leave Your Legacy: Panel Discussion & Cocktail Reception
The Washington Hilton @ 1919 Connecticut Ave. NW | 7 PM-10 PM

Wednesday, September 14

USCB’s Annual Policy Breakfast
Google @ 25 Massachusetts Ave. NW #900 | 8:30 AM-11:30 AM

Health and Wellness Luncheon
Walter E. Washington Convention Center@ 801 Mt Vernon Pl. NW  | 12 PM– 2:30 PM

Transportation, Equity, Access and Opportunity Panel and Discussion
Walter E. Washington Convention Center@ 801 Mt Vernon Pl. NW  | 12:30 PM-2:30 PM

Mu Lambda Chapter of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity
The Park at Fourteenth @ 920 14th Street NW | 5 PM-2 AM

Veterans Committee of The City Club of Washington presents a CBC Reception
The City Club of Washington @ 555 13th Street NW | 5:30 PM-9 PM

National Action Network hosts Annual Action & Authority Reception
Comcast Building @ 300 New Jersey Ave NW | 5:15 PM-9 PM

Rhythm & Rooftops: CBC Week Edition
Avery’s Bar and Lounge@ 1370 H Street NE  | 6 PM-10 PM

Screening of the PBS documentary, Wilhemina’s War
Howard Theatre @ 620 T St. NW | 7 PM-9 PM

The 5th Annual Green Room Reception at the Penthouse Rooftop Pool Navy Yard
Penthouse Rooftop Pool Navy Yard@ 1212 4th St. SE | 7 PM-10 PM

Thursday, September 15

Community Breakfast and Health Fair
Central Union Mission@ 65 Massachusetts Ave NW  | 7 AM-10:30 AM

General Session Luncheon
Walter E. Washington Convention Center@ 801 Mt Vernon Pl. NW | 11:30 AM- 1 PM

Emerging Leaders- Power Luncheon
Walter E. Washington Convention Center@ 801 Mt Vernon Pl. NW | 12 PM- 2 PM

Third Thursday Networking Reception
Rooftop @ 900 G St. NW | 5:30 PM-7:30 PM

2016 Healthcare Leaders Reception
Grand Hyatt Washington @ 1000 H Street NW | 5:45 PM-9:00 PM

The National Association of Real Estate Brokers presents 2016 Advocacy Leadership Awards Reception
Embassy Suites DC @ 900 10th Street NW | 6 PM- 8PM

Shades of Blue 2016 CBC Reception
Grand Hyatt Washington @ 1000 H Street NW | 6 PM-8 PM

Congressional Black Caucus Young, Black, & Progressive Mixer at Policy
Grand Hyatt Washington @ 1000 H Street NW | 6 PM-9 PM

CBCF’s ALC Event feat. DJ Quicksilva
The Capitol Hilton @ 1001 16th Street NW | 6 PM-10 PM

The Urbane Group presents Reception for Florida A&M University
The Park at Fourteenth @ 920 14th St NW | 6 PM-10 PM

Congressional Black Caucus Soiree
Bliss Nightclub @ 2122 24th Pl. NW  | 6 PM-12 AM

Social Architects presents Congressional Black Caucus Reception
Howard Theatre @ 620 T Street NW  | Happy Hour, 5 PM-8 PM & Reception, 8 PM- 2 AM

Black Professional Homecoming 2016 “LinkedIn” networking event
Lucky Strike @ 701 7th Street NW  Time: 7 PM- 11 PM

The Texas CBC Reception
Rosebar @ 1215 Connecticut Avenue Northwest | 7 PM-11:30 PM

2016 Leadership Awards Reception
Renaissance Hotel @ 999 9th Street NW | 8 PM-11 PM

Friday, September 16

The Made Man Honoree Reception
Bobby Van’s Grill @ 1201 New York Ave. NW | 5 PM-8 PM

CBCF Happy Hour
RedRocks H Street @ 1348 H Street NE | 5 PM-9 PM

African American Mayors Association hosts CBCF Reception
Marriott Marquis @ 901 Massachusetts Ave NW  | 6 PM-8PM

CBC Happy Hour feat. DJ Miss H.E.R. at Barcode
Barcode @ 1101 17th Street NW | 6 PM-9 PM

Out on the Hill 2016 Rooftop Reception
The Beacon Hotel @ 1615 Rhode Island Avenue NW |  6 PM-10 PM

Sangria Social, A CBC Networking Mixer
Avery’s Bar and Lounge @ 1370 H Street NE | 6 PM- 10 PM

Black Women’s Health Imperative CBC “Black Magic” Reception
The Loft at 600 F @ 600 F Street NW | 7 PM-10PM

CBC Omega Psi Phi Fraternity Reception
Hamilton Crowne Plaza @ 1001 14th Street NW  | 7 PM-11 PM

Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Inc. presents Congressional Black Caucus Reception and Party
Renaissance Hotel @ 999 9th Street NW | 8 PM-2 PM

39th Annual Symposium: Workshop and Luncheon
Renaissance Hotel @ 999 9th Street NW | 8 PM-3 PM

Network DC with InfluenceDMV
Barcode @ 1101 17th Street NW | 9 PM-3 AM

Motown Live Presents Afterglow ft. Kid Capri
Mead Center for American Theater @ 1101 6th Street SW | 10 PM-2 AM

Suited Lifestyle’s Black Professional Homecoming 2016
Opera Ultra Lounge @ 1400 I Street NW | 10 PM-3 AM

1 Dance Event
L8 Lounge @ 727 15th Street NW | 10 PM-3 AM

The Urbane Group’s CBC Power 100 After Party
The Park at Fourteenth @ 920 14th Street NW | 10 PM-3 AM 

Saturday, September 17

Prayer Breakfast sponsored by Coca-Cola feat Rev. Dr. Cynthia Hale & Tasha Cobbs
Walter E. Washington Convention Center@ 801 Mt Vernon Pl. NW | 7:30 AM- 10 AM

Heels for Hillary Presents Tea and Conversation in Support of the Hillary Victory Fund
Congressional Black Caucus Institute@ 413 New Jersey Avenue SE| 11 AM- 1 PM

I Don’t Do Clubs host “Must Love Beards” CBC Edition Event
The Park at Fourteenth @ 920 14th Street NW | 3 PM-8 PM

OZIO Daytrip
OZIO @ 1813 M Street NW | 3 PM-9 PM

Phoenix Awards Dinner with Keynote Speaker President Barack Obama
Walter E. Washington Convention Center@ 801 Mt Vernon Pl. NW | 6 PM-9:30 PM

Sunday, September 18

OZIO Brunch & Day Party
OZIO @ 1813 M Street NW  | Brunch, 12 PM-4 PM & Day Party, 4 PM-10 PM

The Urbane Group hosts “Brunch & Beats”
The Park at Fourteenth @ 920 14th Street NW  | 1 PM-7 PM

Dana Disante