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.