Allie: What brought you to DC?
Lisa: I’m from California and went to UCLA where I had been writing a dating column for the student newspaper. Then, I got an internship at The Washington Post right out of college. So, I packed up my stuff and moved out here for what I thought was going to be three months and have been here for 14+ years.
Allie: What inspired you to become a journalist?
Lisa: In second grade, we had to write a story about our worst day – like “Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day”. I included everything “bad” that had ever happened to me into the chronology of one day. My teacher showed it to another teacher and was like “isn’t this so good?!” I decided right then that I wanted to write stories.
Allie: Tell me about the Solo-ish column you started at The Washington Post?
Lisa: I wrote an op-ed once on Valentine’s Day about how people should be picking up the phone to ask people out on first dates, and then a couple years later I got dumped by email and wrote a piece about the art of digital rejection. I was writing these one-off stories as I was continuing to edit stories about the budget and the War in Afghanistan.
In 2014, I had a really great editor who asked me if I wanted to write a dating column. I realized I wanted to write a singles’ column that was about more than just dating, but also incorporated friendship, travel, personal finance, and figuring out your life as a person. We launched this in 2015 and called it “Solo-ish”. It’s now under “Relationships.”
Allie: What are your favorite pieces you’ve written for “Solo-ish”/”Relationships”?
Lisa: I wrote a piece about going to my college boyfriend’s wedding. The wedding was fun but also kind of terrible. In part, the wedding made me feel like I was behind in my life because I hadn’t been in a significant relationship since that relationship, but it also helped me reflect on how great it is that we have this friendship that spans over a decade. Writing helps me process my emotions.
I also love writing pieces where I can talk about the larger culture that we’re in. Dating and relationships might seem frivolous or non-essential, but they’re really not. They’re what we live for. There’s hope and despair and sadness and discovery and joy and friendship – all the elements that are in every good story happen in love stories.
Another favorite piece is from a few months ago. I got to go to a romantic comedy festival in LA this past summer. The woman running the festival was in a relationship with her high school crush. She sent him a letter at the end of high school that was like, “I really like you, but you missed your chance with me!” They stayed in touch, and eventually decided to date when they were in their late 20s. Now they’re together and he was there following her around all weekend. I asked her boyfriend why he didn’t swoop in and propose to her during the festival, and he said that he didn’t want to take the spotlight off of her and become focused on their relationship. I realized that this woman was living in a 2019 romantic comedy. If it were set in 1999, her boyfriend would have proposed and made it a big spectacle. Since its 2019, love is a little quieter and more equal.
Allie: What is your favorite part about being a journalist?
Lisa: I’m super nosy, and it’s my job to ask the most personal questions of people. Having those really deep, intense conversations with anyone who is willing to have them with me is super rewarding and interesting.
Allie: What is one dating tip you’ve taken away from your years of writing about relationships?
Lisa: Everyone has something interesting about them. They might not be the person for you, but everyone has something interesting and lovable to discover.
Allie: Walk me through your perfect DC day from start to finish.
Lisa: It would start by a friend texting me, “Want to go have brunch at the diner?” It would be unplanned. When you’re in your late 30s, you don’t really do planned brunches anymore. I might wander over to La Colombe for a tan-line. I would gather some friends to act out a famous movie. We did this to commemorate the 30th anniversary of “When Harry Met Sally” in July, which is one of my favorite movies. Most recently, we did this with “Princess Bride”. It was amazing with the drum circle behind us making the whole thing feel more intense. Everyone brought their own special flavor, energy, and voice. Then, I would bring people over to grill on my rooftop where we have a view of Adams Morgan. I would end the day by spending some time with a novel.
Allie: What’s something people would be surprised to know about you?
Lisa: I’m still playing Pokémon Go.
Allie: Anything else you want to share?
Lisa: I have to share some of my favorite Jewish pick-up lines I’ve heard at events. Someone once came up to me and said, “So, where did you go to camp?” Another time someone walked up to me at a Moishe House event and asked, “Sarah? Rachel? Rebecca?”
Allie: When Jews of DC Gather…
Lisa: Chaos ensues.
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