A Travellerspoint blog

Fall has arrived...

Its official, the rain, the cold, the colors; fall is here!

semi-overcast 15 °C

I think I'll go backwards this week and you can read about the funnest (yes, that is a word..today anyway) first and then the stuff that I have forgotten some of the little details from at the end.

So, today was the Marine Corps Marathon, starting and finishing in Arlington Cemetery and while I am nowhere near motivated enough to run for 4+ hours I though I would follow the hordes of people hopping from one cheering spot to the next to rally their exhausted loved ones who still had miles ahead of them...Ah, how sweet. Anyway, to justify my presence on the overcrowded metro without a cheesy sign saying "you've got it." or "keep it going," or "run baby run," I made a beeline for a place I blended in much better, the Pentagon City mall. Now I know you're all saying, "did you really go all the way out to DC to go to a mall?" and my response to you is, "yes, today i did." However, the day was not completely lost on a rather modern and well stocked Virginian mall. I was home in time to take a walk down our now auburn-golden-orange canopied streets to the local store to pick up ingredients for creamed butternut squash and quiche Florentine. And after having set myself up with meal for the rest of the week, I was able to relax with my 3rd book of this trip, The Lust Lizard of Melancholy Cove, about a sea monster, a northern california coastal town, and 1400 people prescribed placebos instead of what they think are anti-depressants. Amusing, to say the least.

Ok, Saturday. I went tree hunting. Well, actually, more like tree scouting. In a cab earlier this week, I had gone past some of the most beautiful trees changing colors and dropping leaves down by the capitol mall so first thing Saturday morning I walked myself down to the Tidal Basin and started snapping pictures. Soon I had led myself all the way around the Tidal basin passed the massive statue of our 3rd president Jefferson at the Jefferson Memorial and onto the equally impressive, but in a not-so-imposing-nature-friendly-love-not-war-take-care-of-each-other kind of way to be found at the Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial. Its fantastic! Different than all the other huge white marble memorials and monuments in Washington it very peaceful, commemorative, respectful, and you almost wouldn't know its there. Its nestled into the south rim of the Tidal Basin and is a must see! I took the train up to Friendship Heights after that to check out the neighborhood, try some Maryland Cream of Crab soup at Clyde's and oogle at all the accessories I can only dream of in the windows of stores like Gucci and Louis Vuitton that line the streets.

Now back to the work week. Thursday and Friday were kind of wind down days for me. Wednesday was when all the work I had been doing to put together the Vigil for Darfur came to fruition and we had a peaceful candlelight vigil outside the White House. The rain let up for the hour we were there, the office came out to support, the speakers were composed and concise, the White House accepted our 500,000 signatures on the Global Petition to save Darfur (if you would like to sign it and be include in our 2nd delivery to the White House in December please go to www.instantkarma.org), and the meeting being held simlutaneously was productive and the Bush administration held firm that Darfur is, indeed, at the top of the agenda and they are on schedule to fulfill the tasks they have pledged themselves, their funding, and their manpower to.

Backing up even further Monday (Happy Birthday Grandpa!) was the day of my workshop to gear up for Wednesday's event. Everyone showed up enthusiastic, we filled the room and everyone paid attention and was interested in the speaker and then fully participated in the activities. I have to admit, after both the success of the workshop on Monday and the vigil on Wednesday I was just the tiniest bit proud of myself...exactly the motivation and (self) pat on the back to keep on truckin' in this whole 'professional' life track I seem to be on.

Well, now to mix you up let go back to going forward in time to a look at what is coming up. I sort of see this weekend as the last one of my first 'phase' of DC. I have mostly been working, getting settled here, seeing DC and learning my way around. The next part is a whirlwind of travel, visitors, holidays and before I know it I'll be back in CA. Looking just to this next week though; tomorrow I am meeting with Bob McCarty, the executive director of the National Federation for Catholic Youth Ministry to chat a little about what its like to be at the head of youth ministry for the entire country. And, to finish off my week, I am very, very, very much looking forward to Marty coming visit on Friday.

Well, tootles for now. Hope everyone is enjoying fall in your part of the world!

Posted by tuffchix 19:28 Archived in USA Tagged tourist_sites Comments (0)


A day so big it gets its own entry!

sunny 23 °C

Wednesday: Crazy. I dont think I stopped sweating all day (gross!) I got to work early to try and get things in order before everyone else got there and it got more hectic. Unfortunately the mail machine and I got in a fight and by the time I was able to coax out the postage label I was running late for my first Congressional Briefing. Somehow I managed to bust through the doors of the Rayburn House Office Building #2255 just in time to catch the opening statements.

The briefing, addressing the Congressional Human Rights Caucus, was being delivered by one of our staffers as well as a representative from Human Rights Watch on the situation in Chad and Central African Republic, 2 countries bordering and severly effected by the situation in Darfur, Sudan. What has resulted, much like in Sudan is violent rebellion and counter-rebellion against the government which spreads throughout civilians and leads to disorder, grotesque human rights abuses including rapes, kidnappings and murder. The military groups and governments have become so corrupt that many deny humanitarian aid and peacekeepers into the areas (ok, I'm done being on my soap box for the moment). It was neat to see this process as these briefings are the preliminary stages to getting these items on the sub-committee agendas to then bring them to congress where greater attention can be paid and the immediacy of the issues can hopefully be addressed.

I rushed back to the office stopping to grab supplies for my upcoming craft project (yes, my work lets me do arts and crafts, sounds like my kinda place!). Only to fly back out the door to make my way to the West Lawn of the Capitol to see the Dalai Lama. Thats right, Mr. Buddhism himself was here in DC to receive the Congressional Gold Medal (highest honor awarded by congress). This was telecast from the Capitol rotunda but he emerged after an hour of traditional Tibetan and Nepalese performers arm-in-arm with Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi and fellow Buddhist and friend Richard Gere. He delivered his speech to the public in Tibetan, calling for non-violence, peaceful reconciliation and negotiation and thanking all the people who have been a part of those so far.

While there was lots of pomp and circumstance surrounding the whole affair (at an event in DC, how could that be??? :) his message was clear and well received by the audience, many of who were Tibetan's themselves. The Dalai Lama presented Nancy Pelosi with a gift of "building" symbolizing all her work in establishing good relations between the Dalai Lama and the US government, and Richard Gere had a few (correction a litany) of nice things to say about the Dalai. The whole get-up was pretty neat to see. There is definitely a lot of respect and admiration between the Dalai Lama and the representatives of government and the US (Pelosi and Gere) that I saw. And plus, who wouldn't think its cool to see the Dalai Lama himself.

It seemed the excitement was wearing down but really it was just half time. The girls from work and I headed back to the office, where productivity hit a low point and were there for less than an hour before our scheduled happy hour date on nearby 8th Street, or Barracks Row. We were beckoned by $2 glasses of wine, 1/2 price bottles of wine and appetizers. We finally wrapped up about 9 to head back home for the night.

Whew...it was nice to be done.

Posted by tuffchix 12:54 Archived in USA Tagged educational Comments (0)

My Cup Runneth Over...

...with things to do, that is.

sunny 23 °C

You know it gonna be a busy week when your week starts off with a 9 hour day, frantically running all over Eastern Market only to get home in time to grab dinner before Metro-ing it up the green/yellow line(s) to a Cat Power concert at the 9:30 Club. To make a Monday even more exciting, we got more than we bargained for with our concert tickets when not only did we get to see Cat Power perform but a swich blade comb toting, drugged out, dizzily disoriented, incomprehensible singer open up for her. The quality of his entertainment was questionable, but amused we were by his antics.

Tuesday started off with my research seminar meeting starting late, Metro running late, and me getting to work even later. Apparently being late stresses me out cause I just felt rushed all day until I was out of there and able to with Marty a Happy 25th Birthday!!

Wednesday gets its own entry cause there was just too much going on...read on and check next entry for Wednesday's goings on.

Thursday. I love Thursday, usually but not this Thursday. At work we have been preparing for a couple big things. One, our regional conferences held all over the country for our activist. Two, United Nations day events on Oct. 24th. Thursday was the day that everything for both of those days needed immediate attention and spilled over into my Friday (another early and then late) day where I frantically cut and pasted, typed and printed the materials for the regional conferences only to finish. My lunch break for Thai with Gaelan's boyfriend, John, (and the 6 hours of sleep I got) were the only break up to my dash to the deadline 5pm Friday. As Meredith, my boss, jet out the door to hop a plane to Miami for the first of the conferences, I handed off the last 2 days' work. I was satisfied, but not done. I finally ditched the office around 6 not to return for 2 whole days!

Friday night I just needed to chill so my roommate and I headed out to Tryst, the local coffee shop in Adams Morgan. We walked out of the building to a slight drizzle and 30 minutes later dropped our freezing, soaking, windburned selves onto one of the couches at the not-so-quite coffee spot. Not quite an hour later, wet, chilled by the air vent, stomachs sloshing with lukewarm mulled apple cider, we called it quits and slopped home in the wet streets under an almost mockingly light drizzle. I am determined to like that coffee shop though, its very euro-gourmet and kinda funky in an Aroma Roasters meets antique furniture store kind of way. I'll be back.

Saturday was my day at the Zoo. Its kinda weird because all the Smithsonian's are free and you just walk in so one minute you are walking down the street and the next you are in a national zoo staring at a sloth bear, golden lion tamarins or the baby elephant. They have a really neat primate house where the orangutans can choose to sleep in one part of the park or another (connected by cables and platforms on which they transport themselves) and a great reptiles habitat.

I walked back from the zoo through Woodly Park and down Connecticut loving all the fall color and turning leaves that line the streets and shadow the front stoops of the row houses. It was a good week. Eventful days, relaxing nights. Not too bad if you ask me.

Posted by tuffchix 13:12 Archived in USA Tagged tourist_sites Comments (0)

Getting into the Swing of Things.

Fall has arrived!

sunny 20 °C

This week welcomed us with 90% humidity and 90 degree temperatures. On Wednesday we finally got the first real day of fall. Breezy, cool, crisp air, jacket required. Along with fall came my workload, and I'm not complaining...yet. This week I finally solidified some of my projects over the next couple of weeks which center around getting ready for our regional conferences all over the country, organizing our United Nations Day events, creating a film library on Darfur, attempting to contribute to webpage editing and a slew of other meetings, mini-projects, assignments, etc. I'm stoked. Very excited to be busy and have projects of my own!

After getting my work life all squared away on Wednesday, I was able to meet up with Gaelan (friend from RAD) at this crowded mexican food place (Laurial Plaza) just north of Dupont. We finally got to catch up on the last few months/years of life and fill each other in on life in DC and at home in California. Thursday night, we got to hang out again and I met her great group of friends for dinner at her adorable house in Friendship Heights. It was really nice to hang out at a house with great people and just relax, eat dinner, and chat.

Friday was a crazy day! The morning shot me out the door to Congresswoman Lynn Woolsey's office where our tour of the Capitol Building began. After being led through the underground network of hallways and tunnels that connect the 3 house buildings on the south side of the capital mall, we crossed under Independence Avenue into the Capitol. The building is amazing. Each state has been allowed to donate 2 statues which litter the buildings 2 wings (House and Senate) as well as the grand rotunda, originally crafted from wood, now made of BILLIONS of pounds of marble supported by a mere 18 columns in the basement level. Crazy! There is some pretty intricate woodwork and artwork throughout the Capitol, and walking by Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi's office was nearly a brush with fame! After a few rushed hours at work, I was off to the Pentagon. Greg Smith (Steph's father-in-law) was gracious enough to set up a tour with his Public Affairs Office in the Department of the Navy at the Pentagon. I was able to see into all the newsrooms, as well as meet a lot of the people who handle the Navy's PR. I'm not so sure government public relations is my thing, but it was definitely interesting to see where it all happens. Not to mention, being in the Pentagon made me feel pretty important.

This weekend was pretty low key. Friday night was a housewarming party with girls from work, Saturday day was spent walking around the city and catching the England-France semi-final world cup game, watching a movie and baking cookies (how Martha Stewart...I know!). Sunday was a run up to Adams Morgan, and then off to Friendship Heights to carve pumpkins, drink cider, watch football and hang out with Gaelan and friends. Very fall festive and just how I like to spend a relaxing Sunday.

This week I hope to update my happy hour list by visiting a few new places on my list. Next weekend I hope to catch the finals of Rugby world cup (England vs. South Africa), maybe see some more museums and try to hit up the Zoo before it gets too cold.

Posted by tuffchix 17:50 Archived in USA Tagged educational Comments (0)

One more week on the books...

sunny 33 °C

Tomorrow I'll officially have made it 2 weeks in DC!!! I am successfully living up to my title of intern/tourist/traveler/student/football fan/Betty Crocker. Tuesday my roommate and I put on our East coast hats and headed to The Front Page (the local bar decorated with replicas of the worlds most important historical front pages) where we people watched sipped the local brew. Wednesday was no less eventful for me as I enjoyed a fabulous dinner out with Marty's sister, Beth, who was able to fill me in on the in's and out's of DC and my 'hood in general. Thursday took Erin and I over to Georgetown where we met up with Austin and his friend to hit up a fundraiser at the quintessential Georgetown scene, Smith Point. After stepping over blue-blazer clad, Ralph Lauren imitators, careful not to accidentally squish the pointy toed shoes of their cocktail dressed, pearl adorned girlfriends (I only say this with slight annoyance as on most occasions I would love to be dressed in a cocktail dress and pearls), we finally made it to the dance floor. Friday morning came early and the afternoon could not have come soon enough. Just when I thought I was gonna get a nap, an invite to an 80's cover band playing in nearby Clarendon, VA pulled tore me away from my bed and into the smoke filled Clarendon Grill (smoking is unfortunately still legal indoors in VA!!).

Saturday morning was no time for stopping. Erin and I rolled ourselves out of bed and onto the metro into Alexandria, VA. Here we wandered the streets of the 12th annual Art on the Avenue, gandering at over 300 artists and smelling delicious foods from all over the world. Imagine a HUGE Wednesday night market but 17 times longer, 50 degrees hotter, with thousands of small children and dogs running around excited about everything. It was wonderful, mom and grandma- you would have loved it! The rest of Saturday was just as enjoyable as we made our way down to Old Town Alexandria to wander around the waterfront on the Potomac and up the tree lined streets lined by old style streetlights with flower baskets hanging from them, brick buildings, brick sidewalks, brightly painted row houses with cute little signs describing every nick-nack boutique and restaurant you could ever want. My favorite was Pop's Ice Cream Parlor where my double scoop of pumpkin and Guiness ice creams couldn't have been more refreshing! Twenty blocks later, we were back on the metro for home, where I got my first night of relaxation for the week.

Sunday morning, I had had enough of the whole R&R thing and kicked it into gear for a day of wandering the capital area. I headed south toward the Tidal Basin, making my way past the Federal Reserve, the State Department, Department of the Interior, Organization of American States and White House before hitting the breathtaking WWII Memorial and on down to the water's edge to see the Jefferson memorial across the basin. Winding around the basin brought me toward the Washington Monument which became the backdrop for a rugby pitch (ahhh...rugby!) before walking me right past the Holocaust Memorial Museum.

The Holocaust Museum is beautiful. It is respectful and threatening at the same time. Its grotesque and breathtaking. You have to see it.

The rest of the day was fairly insignificant. A breeze through Chinatown (SF takes the cake!), and strolling through Penn Quarter and downtown before heading home to rest. By the evening, I had a little more energy and Erin and I made our way down to Buffalo Billiards to play some shuffleboard and watch the Packers lose (and my fantasy football team dive even lower in the rankings).

Monday is a holiday for everyone here on the Fed's schedule and I reaped the benefits of that choosing to spend my monday wandering up and around Georgetown and the university there before baking a quiche and settling in for the night.

Tomorrow its back to work. Hopefully I will be getting so exciting projects soon, as I am sort of just a go-to girl for little things here and there right now. Next up on the 'To Do' list is a House of Representatives hearing on Wednesday and a trip to the Pentagon on Friday!

Posted by tuffchix 16:23 Archived in USA Tagged tourist_sites Comments (0)

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