Monday, June 22, 2009

DC Day 2

I'm not sure if it's from a lack of sleep and the fake heightened sense of understanding that comes with it, but today ended up being a pretty big day for me!

After waking up at 5 and lying in bed for two hours, I threw some clothes on and got some breakfast. Eric's insistence on buying fruit for cereal paid off as the blueberries he bought vastly improved the already solid Honey Nut Cheerios.

We all went to our first real session, an orientation thing at the WAIP office. The other Mike and I zoomed out to a big lead for some reason. I've noticed so far that I've been walking a lot faster than everyone else when there's a decent-sized group. When it's just Eric and me, though, we usually go about the same pace or I have to quicken up a bit. Anyway, we got to the office and the program coordinator met us and said they weren't quite ready for us yet (we were about 15 minutes early). Everyone else got there and we just stood around outside. I met Eric's friend Swati, who according to all our mutual friends is certifiably insane. She seemed nice enough to me, so whatever. Eventually, we got to go in and give a boring introduction to ourselves--the usual spiel, name, hometown, major, where we were interning, fun fact. I made a big deal out of flying again because I'm a tremendous dork.  After all that, we sat through the coordinator and director reading through all the syllabi and calendars and whatever else they gave us. I bought a bottle of water at the conveniently located albeit absurdly expensive "supermarket" next door. I had been concerned that I really had no way to drink water here, but now I have a gigantic water bottle I plan on refilling several times a day (more on that later). I apologize for all these inane details but I'm trying to remember as much as I can for posterity's sake if nothing else.

Some time later, Eric and I went in search of a CVS so we could buy one of those card things for the Metro. He is much better than me at directions right now--I am having a horrible time getting around right now for some reason--so we walked about ten blocks to where he could find an ATM and a CVS. I wandered off on my own to find the CVS while he got some cash but I couldn't find it. I felt incompetent again because I figured I was just blind or got lost somehow walking down the street, but it really wasn't there. A friendly ubiquitous police officer informed us that the closest CVS was up on H Street, another 5 blocks north. He said, "I don't know if you want to walk that far." We'd already wandered about 15 so 5 more wasn't a big deal to us. We got up to H Street, took a wrong turn, asked some more cops, and eventually found the damn thing. The walk back home was much less confusing, though no less draining. When I got back, I took the second-best shower of my life. I looked at the poor shirt I was wearing and it looked like I went for a jog, not a walk. It's horrible. Later, Eric complained about how much he sweats and I almost punched him in the face. 

We went on a tour of the National Building Museum, which was way cooler than I figured I'd give it credit for. The aforementioned dork in me came out again as we checked out an exhibit on the development of Washington as a city. Learning about the politics behind the placements of certain memorials and stuff was really fascinating to me. After walking to the place with a group of about 15 people, I guess Eric and I dawdled too much at the gift shop and went back all on our lonesome. After deciding against taking yet another shower, I did some homework and reflection.

Thus far, this program feels much like my summer program after my junior year of high school where I was at OSU for a week. I'm in a strange place, I hardly know anyone, I don't know where anything is or how to get anywhere when it seems like everyone else knows exactly where to go, I'm horribly exhausted and busy. There are some positives, though. One of my best friends is my roommate, which makes things considerably easier (though in another similarity to Essex, I am once again completely relying on my roommate for any social life I may have). It takes me a while to get acclimated to people, and the brief week we had at Essex didn't let me grow on people like these two months here in DC will. I'm writing up my thoughts and feelings in what I intended to make private but am considering opening up to everyone; I did the same thing at Essex. Of course, I just completed my junior year of college. The similarities here are astounding.

I mentioned to Eric yesterday that I brought my A-/B+ game to dinner last night, which is better than I ever did at Essex, so I'm slightly less socially awful now than I was four years ago. Today, however, and I blame this entirely on exhaustion, I brought my I-for-incomplete game to the table as I talked to about zero people all day until dinner. With luck, come Wednesday when we all meet again or this weekend I will be more refreshed and more willing to chat with people. This is generally a pretty good group of people from what I can tell so I don't know why I can't be friends with some of them. When the time came for me to decide whether I wanted to go all the way down to Georgetown for some dinner, I thought back to Essex, when I would have most assuredly said no, citing exhaustion as my excuse du jour. Today, I said I'd go, and it was a pretty good decision. Three people I didn't know too well, Eric (of course) and I got some Italian grub. We grabbed a cab after originally intending to take the Metro out there (today, of course, it crashed, killing at least 6 people. Awesome). We talked a bit, which was fun. The other four wanted to stay out and have some drinks or go shopping, but I got my own cab and got a ride home. I felt no resent from the others, so I felt I made a good decision. I had a little more conversation with the people back here and wound up here in my room where I typed up this post for like two hours. 

My first day of work is tomorrow. Let's hope I get some rest tonight so I can make a reasonable first impression in the morning.

Something I forgot: The cab ride back home was gorgeous. The guy drove me up past the Potomac as the sun was going down and I was stunned at how attractive the scene was. Looking back a few hours later, I don't know why I was so stunned; every day at home is like that, as long as I'm by the lake. Maybe it was because the sun was setting behind the memorials and stuff that it felt cooler. Dunno. Going to pass out now.

DC Day 1

Woke up around 6 to get ready to go to the airport. Managed to do that and the flights into Philadelphia and Reagan were as uneventful as any flights can be. I felt like a 4 year old kid though when the plane in Cleveland sat on the runway, then fired its engines and we took off at warp speed. I spent seriously ten minutes just staring out the window at the tiny neighborhoods below.

I had planned to take the Metro from Reagan to Union Station then walk the rest of the way to our house. I grabbed my bags and walked maybe 40 feet when I decided that a cab was a better idea. Constitution Ave was shut down for a triathlon so the cab driver got a little perturbed and turned around, costing me probably $5 in the process. Thanks, guy. Whatever, $20 was definitely worth not putting up with the hassle of figuring out a new public transportation system and walking a quarter mile or so with all my junk.

Unfortunately, when I rolled into the house, my roommate Eric was out buying groceries and locked my key in the room, so all my stuff just sat around. I took the opportunity to call my mom and dad for the fourth time that day so they would know I made it here alive. I wished my dad a happy father's day and he did the same to me.

I unpacked all my stuff and then Eric and I just watched some golf for an hour. It was too hot (80-ish is too hot right now) to go exploring and we wouldn't have known where to go anyway. 5 o'clock eventually rolled around after some random housemates/neighbors strolled through our place. We decided to grab some much-needed dinner. Four girls from next door went with us. We walked to Union Station, which was much more awesome than I anticipated. I quickly got used to the idea that every building in the Capitol Hill area is just enormous and the station was no exception. It reminded me of Tower City for some reason, except there was actually life inside. We had a rather excellent dinner at a place called Thunder Grill, wandered around the station a little more, then moseyed on home.

Eric and I relaxed a little while longer until I heard a question I didn't really want to hear so soon into our adventures here: "Hey, do you want to go for a run?" Well, not really, but I did anyway. We jogged down Constitution for a ways, past the Capitol and a bunch of other buildings that house random government offices. I saw FBI headquarters and giggled a little. It was weird. We ended up at the White House. I was huffing and puffing by this point, naturally, and was pretty much just walking anyway. On the very long trek home I could hardly do better than to shuffle my feet for a block before I started walking again. It was pretty sad but I'm not too upset that I went through with it.

I got in the shower and it was the best thing ever. Not just because I was impossibly sweaty as usual, but because our shower has about 5 shower heads in it that all spray at once. It's like standing in a Jacuzzi. I want to shower three times a day every day for the next two months. I also believe I will take a bath every Sunday, just because.

By this point it was 10 o'clock, which by normal college standards means it's time to consider doing something, but everyone decided to go to bed. It was very weird. I only slept until about 5 after waking up several times, then I just lied in my bed for two hours. Hopefully tonight goes better.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Cinco de Mayo

Today was another one of those days when a few very annoying things happened as a result of random coincidences. I got harassed about returning some books. I did pretty well on a midterm today so I rewarded myself by taking the rest of the day off for no reason. I just realized that today is a pretty awful day to be on call. Tomorrow my 8 AM class might be canceled but I won't know until I get up and the odds of going back to sleep if it is canceled aren't that high. I've been slacking off about finding internships lately but it's already May; how many more places could actually have spots available? I just wish the Glenn people would keep in touch with me better. I guess I could just e-mail them about that. I'll do that right now. Thanks, blog.

Alright, that's done. Claire's professor in the lobby sounds interesting but I can't quite hear everything he's saying, which is unfortunate.

I really need to get on top of things this weekend, if you know what I mean. What I mean is I have a lot of work to do. This research lit review has to get off the ground at some point. It sounds like we're going to have a massive project in information analysis next week, so I'm hoping to clear some Spanish/PPM work out this weekend in anticipation of that. If I can write, oh, five pages of the lit review by the end of the weekend, I'll consider that a success. I'm pretty sure I can manage that. After the big project, whatever it is, I'll have to get started on my presentation for public policy since that's only three weeks away. GRE/MAT studying has completely fallen off the map this quarter in lieu of exercise and focusing on classes. I think I'm staying on top of work in my classes more this quarter than ever before which is pretty cool. Additionally, I haev tried harder at the RA thing here in the spring than I did over the winter, but it's a little sad because I don't feel like they need me (they certainly don't; nobody needs their RA by the time the spring rolls around). Instead, I've just been keeping up with the people who actually care more and letting everyone else do whatever. Even the breakout of swine flu hasn't sent people running to my door in terror--which I'm grateful for, don't get me wrong--but it's just a little surprising. I think it's my fault; I didn't put myself out there enough fall quarter, which has allowed me to dodge the comical drama Claire has had to put up with, but I feel as if I haven't had the full experience that a lot of my colleagues have had. That'll leave me woefully unprepared to mentor the new RAs next year. I'm going to be pretty useless in training aside from my bottomless well of stupid jokes. Oh well.

Finals week looks to be relatively painless. I don't think I'll have anything for the analysis class, but then again, who knows. I have a Spanish final... not too terrified there. I think public policy only has a 5 page report which I hope to have done before my presentation which is during week 9 anyway. And my research certainly doesn't have a final, I just have to write the thing. That'll leave me plenty of time to do RCRs for people moving out. Great fun that'll be.

Looking over the syllabus, it looks like I get to wear my suit for my presentation. That brings me a tiny amount of joy.

I had a thought yesterday in my favorite thinking place, the shower. I might write my thesis on something related to Vermilion politics and public policy... the case in one of my textbooks about a Wal-Mart trying to get into a small town sounded very, very familiar and I'd like to write about how/why things in Vermilion happen. Grandma always complains about the people in the Lagoons getting what they want because they have the money, but Vermilion is getting older and the elderly participate in politics more. Irresistible force meets immovable object? I wonder if there are any professors here familiar with north central Ohio politics, or are from the area.

Excuse me while I laugh at that proposition.

Sorry, I'm almost done.

OK, that's better. I've been writing this long enough and post #2 probably won't show up until August or something. Also this is not very funny at all.

Claire's program is over and so is this post. ~lAtErZ~