Sunday, July 31, 2011

Week Three: In the Summer Intern Groove

I gave my first Capitol Hill tour this past Tuesday to the brother of one of the Senator's regional representatives from my hometown.  The tour went pretty well and I saw the senator that I am working for for the first time so far on this internship in the Lincoln Stairway in the Capitol Building.  I even got the senator to stop and talk to us for a second or two in the stairwell.  I also saw Lindsey Graham from South Carolina with his Diet Coke and John Kerry from Massachusetts in the tunnels outside the Capitol Visitors Center.  

That same night, I went to my first ever professional sports game to see the Washington Nationals play the Florida Marlins.  The stadium was huge and even though neither of the two teams were very good, it was still really fun to be in the stands watching it all.  We got pretty good seats and I was able to get a Nats hat in a knock-off New Era style for a cheap price outside the stadium.  There's probably nothing more American to do in DC than to spend all day on Capitol Hill and then head straight to a baseball game.  

On Wednesday morning, half of us interns went on a tour of the Pentagon.  The tour was okay, basically just walking through a lot of hallways and didn't get to see anything super top secret.  We did learn that the soldiers that give the tour have to go through some crazy training ahead of time and they have to learn how to navigate the entire Pentagon tour route walking backwards.  We got to see the 9/11 Memorial and the windows in the memorial were green because of the mylar, a window treatment that is really heavy, but makes the windows shatterproof and bulletproof.  There is also a hotdog stand in the middle of the Pentagon and our tour guide told us that during the Cold War, the Soviets thought that it must have been a bunker or something really important because people were going in and out all day long.  There are 40,000 people in the Pentagon at any given time and it was built in 16 months out of concrete (to conserve steel) during World War II, but the renovations have taken over 15 years.  It is in the shape of a Pentagon because military forts at the time were built in this shape as well.  The complex also used to be called the "National Military Establishment" or "NME," but since the acronym when said quickly sounds like "enemy," people began referring to the complex as "the Pentagon."

On Thursday, I got to go on a tour of the State Department's diplomatic reception rooms.  I was the only intern who got to go on this tour because I had put in a special request on the first or second day with our office's receptionist.  I ended up getting the last available tour slot for July, which was pretty lucky on my part.  I was hoping that the tour would have more history of the State Department and the Foreign Service, etc., but it was still cool to see the reception rooms which are used for events.  There were a lot of really old pieces of furniture, a really cool grandfather clock, and Chinese porcelain.  For dinner, I met up with the interns from my organization in the Spring to celebrate one of our coworkers' birthday at Guapo's Restaurant in Tenlytown.  The food was great and it was so much fun to catch up with everyone.  

On Friday, one of my friends came to visit me at work so that I could give a private Capitol Hill tour.  We were able to get the key for the Senator's hideaway office in the Capitol Building.  The Senator has a really cool Americana collection in the office so we got to see a note written by Thomas Alva Edison, a library sign-in sheet with Charles Darwin's signature, a note by Abraham Lincoln, and some famous classic movie posters autographed by the stars.  There was also a block of marble that was from the Roosevelt Memorial. For lunch, we went over to Good Stuff Eatery to take advantage of their $10 weekday lunch special and when I was walking back to the hill, I saw a guy who looked like Remy from YouTube and turns out that it was.  My first celebrity sighting.  He was really cool and took a cell phone picture with me.  He's the guy that did the Arlington video, but this is probably my favorite song that he's done so far:

When I got back from my lunch break and celebrity spotting, I found out that the office had offered all of us interns tickets to see the Marine Barracks parade that night.  I called one of my friends and grabbed the free tickets for us and we went to the show that night.  It was all the drum and bugle corps stuff that is really cool to watch.  My favorite thing though was the rifle drill team.  They were so precise with all of their moves and their portion of the show was spectacular.  It looked something like this (below) but now imagine it with a full moon, spotlights, absolutely no other sounds on a beautiful summer night in front of the oldest Marine barracks in the country and you'll get an idea of just how awesome this was:

On Saturday, I tried to check out Rock Creek Park, which is supposed to be really cool and larger than Central Park in New York City.  However, after getting off of the metro and with cell phone GPS and multiple maps, it took over two hours to find the entrance to the park.  And once I got to the entrance, it was just a sign and a road with no street signs leading to who knows where.  It was so hot that after taking a picture next to the sign, I just turned around.  I watched part of the Barcelona-Manchester United game that was being played in DC (which clears up why all of these random people were wearing soccer jerseys) then watched a documentary about mixed race adoptions with friends from my building.

On Sunday, I took it easy and just wandered around doing my own thing.  I wandered over to Metro Center to do some shopping then over to Chinatown and then ended up at Barnes & Nobel.  I also went back the Natural History Museum to see more of their exhibit about race, which was pretty interesting.  I also went to the National Gallery of Art, which was nice, but not really my kind of art.  For dinner, I went with my friends from my building to Ben's Chili Bowl and then over to Malcolm X Park for the summer Sunday night drum circle.  It was really cool to see people of all different ages and backgrounds just bringing  every style of drum imaginable and playing together.  There must have been over 40 drummers with a few people playing trumpets and saxophones, and a handful dancing to the music.  

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Week Two: Summer Interning

The second week of internship was not as cool as the first week based on us not having very many projects to do.  I ended up assigning a memo for myself on a foreign policy issue that was being discussed in some hearing on the Hill during the week.  I was supposed to give my first Capitol Hill tour, which I was a bit nervous about because I really didn't want to get the tour group lost in the underground tunnels, but this problem never materialized because the group I was supposed to give the tour to never showed up.  

On Thursday night, I went to a lecture at the Natural History Museum called "Blended Nation: Portraits and Interviews of Mixed-Race America."  It was a really cool event and definitely something that I can personally relate to.  It is part of a broader exhibit called "Race: Are We So Different?"  That second exhibit was pretty cool and geared to be eye-opening for younger children especially, but it still has a lot of great information for everyone in general to see.  

Heading into the weekend, I went back to Clarendon to hit up Spider Kelly's and the Clarendon Ballroom.  The Clarendon Ballroom is a really cool club with cheap cover (only $5) and the best part is that it is colder inside than outside, which never happens for clubs.  Spider Kelly's is right next door and has a few billiard tables, shuffle board, and old school video games.  

Saturday morning, I went to Mount Vernon to see George Washington's estate and the Marine Museum in Quantico.  Mount Vernon is huge and the organization that owns the estate also bought up the land on the other side of the Potomac River so that the view from the Washington house is the same now as it was when the Washingtons were living there.

The Marine Museum was really cool.  It was basically a history of the Marine Corps from the Revolutionary War through the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.  It showed how the corps has changed since its early days and all of the different campaigns that the corps has been involved with.  At the end, there is an interactive exhibit about what boot camp is like as well as a target range where you can pay $5 and shoot a laser-equipped M-16 rifle at targets.  They have a computer that prints out your 10 shots and tells you your shooting percentage.  I surprised myself and got an 80% and fired one shot about every 10 seconds - the 80% accuracy is enough to qualify as a Marine sharpshooter.  So I guess I'll have options if this whole law school thing doesn't work out...  After getting back to DC, I went to see the new "Captain America" movie with a bunch of friends from my building.  It was better than expected and we all had a fun time at the Chinatown Theatre.

On Sunday, I slept in and then went back to Georgetown for the afternoon.  After wandering around and window shopping, I discovered a couple really cool design stores - my favorite of all time is CB2.  I think I wanted every single thing in that store in my future dream house/apartment.  For dinner, I went to Pizzeria Paradiso and had an amazing margarita pizza.  On the bus back to my building, I chatted with two tourists from Madrid and Galecia who were trying to find their way to the Capitol Building.  It was great to be able to practice Spanish with them and fun to hear the Spanish accent again.  

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Week One: Summer Internship in the District

After spending a few months back home, I flew back to Washington, D.C. on July 9th in order to start another internship for the summer.  I worked out a much better housing situation this time around (YAY) but since that room didn't open up for another day, I spent the weekend crashing on a friend's couch in Columbia Heights.  It was warm in the spring but July in DC is h-o-t and h-u-m-i-d.  We went out to a bar that night and met up with more people from MSU.  The highlight was the discovery that fried pickles are actually amazing despite how weird it might sound.  The next day, we went over to Chinatown Coffee (a pretty neat place where the cash register is an iPad) to do some work via free wifi then over to the National Portrait Gallery's courtyard to listen to the Roosevelt Institution's budget proposal.  We also went out to Silver Springs, MD to another friend's apartment to chill in the rooftop swimming pool.  That night, we went to a Silver Springs bar called Quarry House Tavern for their Sunday Night team trivia.  It was pretty fun.

Monday, July 11th, was my first day starting the internship on Capitol Hill with my state senator's office.  There were 7 other interns, all college undergraduates.  I was lucky when they assigned us Legislative Assistants (LAs) to work with because I got placed with the one who handles foreign policy and defense issues (among several other topics).  The staff seems nice and we jumped right into exploring the underground tunnels between the buildings of the Capitol complex.  I was able to drop my stuff off at the new housing before going into the office and the location is great - literally right next to Capitol Hill with air conditioning that is constantly set to "blizzard" and already is a dream compared to the place in the spring.  I met some people in my new building and after dinner, we all went over to Eastern Market and ended up at Good Stuff Eatery (the best burger & shake joint in the city - don't worry, I didn't forget that Ben's Chili Bowl is the best burger/dog/chili joint in the city).

Our second day of work kicked off with lots of seminars & orientation in the morning for the Congressional Research Service (CRS).  It's pretty amazing the resources that are available to people on the Hill.  The CRS issues non-partisan reports with good stats and figures on basically every topic ever and if, by some odd chance, there isn't already a report, their professional researchers/know-it-alls will get to work to help you with something good.  After work, I went to meet up with a friend from Spain at this amazing, authentic Spanish restaurant on 14th & Church called Estadio.  For the first time in a year, I was actually able to find my favorite Spanish drink, tinto de verano (it's like sangria, but more amazing) and authentic patatas bravas. And just to add to the place, there is even a huge mural of a shirtless Cristiano Renaldo in the women's bathroom (so this is a place for Madrilistas and not those annoying Barça fans, hahaha) as well as a mural of the 2010 Spanish National World Cup team.  

After work on the following day, I walked with a friend around the Capitol buildings and then all the way down the mall to the memorials and we ended up at the Lincoln Memorial.  We ended up walking about 5 miles from where we started.  Also, H.H. XIV Dalai Lama is in DC right now for the Kalachakra but the student "discount" tickets were about $450 for the week, so unfortunately, no nirvana for me this time.

The week went by pretty quickly and Thursday was there before I knew it.  After checking in with our supervisor, my project partner and I got good feedback that we were on track with our project that's due by Friday of our first week.  I signed up for a ZipCar membership so that my friend and I can get to a Lil Wayne concert, since neither of us have cars here and it's about an hour drive each way.  At least in DC, ZipCar has some really nice options, depending how much you're willing to pay per hour.  We went with the Honda Civic but before the membership expires, I want to try out the Mini Cooper, an Audi A3, and the BMW 328 xi.  

On Friday, July 15th, we finished our memo project 3 minutes before the end of the day, after proof reading and standardizing the formatting for our separate sections.  After work, I went over to Clarendon in Arlington, VA, on the orange line and checked out Liberty Tavern, which is a pretty cool place.  Clarendon in general is pretty awesome.  There are brand new, nice apartments right next to the metro and there are a lot of young people that live there.  The neighborhood is hopping all the time, the nightlife is good, and most importantly, the cost of living is much cheaper because sales tax is only 5%, compared to DC's 10% on everything, including food (jerks).  This is pretty much what Arlington is like:

For the weekend, I went to the Smithsonian Zoo in Adam's Morgan.  The zoo was pretty sweet, although not many of the animals for the Asia exhibits were out.  The zoo only had one tiger, but there were cheetahs that kept coming close as well as komodo dragons, gorillas, orangutans, and double-wattled cassowarys (which I love because of the name).

On Saturday night, my friend and I took the ZipCar we rented earlier in the week to Virginia for the Lil Wayne concert.  We got there just in time to park next to all of the limousines and see Rick Ross finish his opening act.  After the crew took down his set, Lil Wayne came on.  I really didn't listen to any of his music prior to this past week, but who can say no to a GroupOn deal for $10 rap concert tickets?  It was actually a really fun concert and we ended up with seats that were even better than we were expecting.  

On Sunday of my first week back in DC, I went and explored Georgetown.  We first headed over to the Old Stone House, the oldest building still standing in Washington, DC.  Unfortunately, there wasn't a tour, but I was surprised how big the house is on the inside, because it looks so small from the outside.  After the house, we walked down to Georgetown University's campus, which is beautiful, and then to The Tombs bars and the stairs where "The Exorcist" was filmed.  Those stairs were really steep.  To get out of the heat, we went to the AMC theatre by the water to see the final Harry Potter movie, which was pretty great.  After the movie, we headed up the street to Baked & Wired, this really good cupcake place (better than Georgetown Cupcake and with a much shorter line).

Twitter Delicious Facebook Digg Stumbleupon Favorites More

Design by Free WordPress Themes | Bloggerized by Lasantha - Premium Blogger Themes | Walgreens Printable Coupons