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.  


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