Saturday, August 13, 2011

Week Five: Down to the Wire

This was my last week of my internship.  By this afternoon, I will be back in my hometown with two weeks before moving into law school and what is sure to be "1L" of a year (sorry for the terrible pun).

On Tuesday, we had a ton of spare time because it's the last week of our internship and because the Senate is in recess.  So, we wandered over to the Dirksen Senate gift shop.  Apparently, there is no sales tax there so we had some fun.  They had a lot of random and cool stuff, but at the end of the trip, I walked out with some postcards, a Senate key chain, and a Senate shot glass (original, I know).  

On Wednesday, I woke up really early to go to the State Department's Authentication Office to get one of my high school friend's application to teach English abroad apostilled.  I got there really early, but the office was already full.  There was another person about my age there getting her teaching application apostilled too, but most of the other people there were people who are paid to get documents authenticated on behalf of private clients who don't feel like doing this themselves.  I only had the one document to take care of for my friend so I was done shortly after they started seeing people at the counter.  I was able to catch the Circulator Bus back to work and made it only 15 minutes late.  Because I got up so early to get to the metro, I also realized that the Capitol complex looks really beautiful with the sun coming up in the early morning around 6:00am.  I met up with another fellow for lunch in one of the House cafeterias and it was nice to chat about law school and everything.  

After work, the interns from my office and I went to McDonalds for dinner and then to the Smurfs movie at Chinatown (by the way, that McDonalds is by far the shadiest McDonalds ever - the cops had to stand inside & outside the restaurant).  During our internship, one of the interns always would talk about her food cravings and one day she wanted McDonalds so she brought back a Happy Meal with a smurf toy in it.  The smurfs thing caught on in our little intern office and we all had our own smurfs.  The movie was obviously not that great, but it did explain why certain smurf toys that we each had were doing what they were doing.  It was also good to be able to see people relaxing a bit outside of work.

Since this was my last week in DC before going back to start law school, I met up with my former organization for a happy hour at Ozio's.  It's a pretty cool place with nice lounge areas inside and a lounge/bar/dance floor on the rooftop.  We had a whole section reserved for our group on the roof.  We had fun but when the DJ decided that after three requests from our group (we were the only ones dancing too) that he would not play our "theme" song, "Black and Yellow" by Wix Khalifa, we left.  However, we learned that Moby Dick's Kabob House closes really early at night.  We ended up wandering a few blocks to a new place called Friends Kabob which was just as good and open late.

Friday, August 12, was our last day of the internship. Early this morning, like 6:00am, I met up on the Capitol complex with another intern that lived nearby so that we could take pictures of the buildings in the morning when they look really pretty with the morning sun.  At 6:00am, it was already 70 degrees.  It was nice though because no one was around aside from a few security guards.

In the afternoon, I met up with another fellow and one of our friends to give a tour of the Capitol building.  It was cool because the other fellow worked with a House office and I was with the Senate so our friend got both sides of the tour.  We were able to go pretty much everywhere, including the hideaway office.  That afternoon, four other interns and I took our smurfs and did a Capitol Hill tour for ourselves and to take pictures.  A few times, tourists saw us and asked if we were part of the Cult of the Smurf.

After work, I went home to change and then headed over to E Street Cinema, a really cool movie theatre that plays a unique film selection, to see "The Devil's Double."  The film is based on a true story but also highly fictionalized with more "Hollywood" added to it, but was a really interesting, graphic story about Udday Hussein's body double.

After the film, I headed back to Clarendon to go to Liberty Tavern and Clarendon Ballroom for the last time (for this trip) in DC.  I even got to practice more Spanish with someone we met at the bar.  After we left the club, I hopped on the metro back to Capitol South to go home and pack up all of my stuff.  I had done part of the checkout before I left so I really just had to clean the room and throw things back into the suitcase.  I finished packing around 4:00am.  One of my friends in the building was flying out the same day I was but we had different flight times (her cab left at 6:00am), so right before her cab left, she stopped by my room to say goodbye.

When I took my cab (an EnviroCab - if I can, I prefer to take a hybrid cab), the driver and I talked a bit about DC and then got to talking about soccer and the Barçelona - Manchester United game from a few weeks ago.  He said that the entire stadium was packed for the game so he and his friends had to watch from a tv in a bar.  We started talking about club soccer teams and when I was talking about Real Madrid, he asked if I was part Spanish, which made my day (and made for a larger tip even though there's no tipping cab drivers in Spain).  Even though I am really excited to go back home to see family and friends and do some kayacking and play some tennis, I'm going to miss DC.  But, it feels like I'll be returning soon anyway.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Week Four: Tours and More, Intern Extraordinaire

I kicked off the week by giving one of my former coworkers and her little brother who was visiting a private Capitol Tour.  Unfortunately, we could not get the key to the special hideaway office but we did ride the train with John McCain from the Russell Senate Building to the Capitol Visitors Center.  He walks really fast and is a lot taller than I thought he would be.  I also gave a tour for two of my friends in my building who moved out this week.  Another friend from my building works down the hall from my office, so the two of us gave a tour to the two of them.  It was kind of cool to give the tour with someone from another office because they tell us different things so she knew some things that I didn't know, like cat prints in the cement outside the old Supreme Court room.  

It's the middle of the fourth week of our five week internship and we are just now meeting the Senator for whom we have been working for free for the last three weeks.  Based on the articles that we copy on a daily basis that mention the senator, we learned that the senator's favorite kind of dessert is a plain chocolate chip cookie.  So, all of us interns decided to bake cookies to bring in for when we eat lunch with the senator but when we passed around the plate, the senator was the only one who didn't take a cookie.  Nooo!

At the lunch meeting, we had the opportunity to ask the senator questions.  The other interns were a little shy with asking questions so I asked two that related to foreign policy.  After I asked the second question, the senator said, "So, you're the foreign policy kid?"  I replied "yes," and the senator asked me, "so, then what is the capital of Sierra Leone?"  I replied, "Freetown."  I think the senator was a little surprised when I replied with the answer off the top of my head, but the senator explained that as a child, the siblings would ask their father that question whenever the father started going on and on about foreign policy stuff.  Then the senator answered my question.  

After the lunch meeting, I sorted mail with another intern.  Sorting constituent mail is always an interesting job because people send all kinds of things in.  Some people send in the normal things like petitions, letters about legislation or specific issues, or requests for military academy nominations, but there is a sizable number of people who just send in crazy stuff.  Like the random lady who sent in copies of her divorce settlement, including all of the pleadings, with a five page letter about how she basically did not like the judge's decision and wants her senators to do something about it (I'm sorry, lady, that you're going through a rough divorce, I really am, but honestly, what do you really think a senator's office can do about your situation?).  We also get a lot of letters from angry people who are venting in often less than coherent ways about their dissatisfaction with either their representative or the government as a whole.  Since we have to categorize mail to give to the staff members who handle each issue, the "government reform" category is often filled with the letters that we don't know what to do with.  So today, we received my all-time favorite letter: "BIG RICH FAT CATS DON'T DESERVE TAX BREAKS.  THEY PARTY, PLAY GOLF, AND TRAVEL A LOT."  And into the "government reform" pile that letter went.  And yes, it was written in all capital letters.

On Thursday, I got to go to an event hosted by my former organization close to the Hill.  They had a great turnout and it was great to be able to catch up with former co-workers there.  It was also nice to be able to give myself a self-assigned project that I actually wanted to write up and thought there was a need to write something up for it.  No idea if anyone back in the personal office will actually read it or not, but at least it's been passed along, I guess.  In the afternoon back at the senate office, two of the staff members who have been there for a while talked with us about what they do and what they like about working on Capitol Hill.  It was interesting and they certainly like their jobs, but I don't know if I could handle the frustration of working really hard on all of these important issues that I care deeply about only to watch any potential to make progress on them fall apart because of congressional bickering.  After work, I went to Adam's Morgan for a happy hour at Jack Rose Dining Saloon with my former organization.  It was great to be able to spend time catching up with everyone and meet new interns and fellows.  Later on in the evening, the group split up and I went with about half of the group to Lucky Bar near Dupont.

On Friday, we kept it pretty chill at work but a group of us from the office went to a free evening show at the Kennedy Center.  They have weekly shows that are free to the public on a first come first serve basis and today, the show was a musical performance by an Afro-Colombian group, Sexteto Tabala, whose main singer was 70 years old.  The group was pretty good though and they had a lot of people dancing in the front.

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