Things I Did: Graduate College

The past fortnight – the past month – has been so crazy I don’t even know where to start. Do I go back to the beginning of spring semester when I thought I had all the time in the world? Or maybe midterms when I started to freak out about my grades and finding a job and an apartment? Or maybe that gap where I worried no one would want to live with me? What about that short period I thought I would leave DC, all of my friends, and take a year-long fellowship in Detroit?

See? So much has happened.

The last month alone has been the most action-packed of my life and I’m not even being hyperbolic! But the thing that I find most strange about it all is that I wasn’t even all that stressed. I really think the saving grace here was that I honestly just didn’t have time to feel stressed. I knew I would be able to pass all my classes. Amanda graciously agreed to be my roommate. We only looked at three apartments before we found one that we could agree on. I applied to a job, was qualified for it, did well in the interview and was hired.

I just… May was insane. I worked part-time during finals. I moved out of my dorm and into my very first apartment. I rented a car, went to Ikea for the first time, bought a bed and a mattress, and transported them to my new home. I went to 9 of the 10 Daze parties. I introduced my brother to my friends, went to two graduation ceremonies – on of which was ON THE NATIONAL MALL.

But it was all over so quickly. Do you know how quickly ten days of parties pass you by? Very quickly. Especially when you spend a significant portion of your day sleeping/moving/trying to figure out what you can wear that will fit that night’s theme. It’s exhausting. In a really good way.

So on top of all the parties and the hectic moving the graduation thing actually happened. Despite some reservations, Kerry Washington was actually a kick-ass commencement speaker (and a fellow GW alum).

And then, because I am a dumb-dumb, I started work at my full-time job the day after commencement. The day after. At 8:30 am. I have to COMMUTE now. That’s so weird. I moved to Virginia and ended up getting a job basically on campus of my alma mater. So weird (not the late-90s Disney show). But I live four metro stops away so I really can’t complain. Like, at all.

So now I have a job. That I’m good at. In a law firm (in the library, but still). It’s weird. And kind of easy. And has absolutely no relation to that shiny new degree I just earned next door. But I get paid! When they decide to pay me on time I can afford my rent and food and clothes for said job and, I don’t care what you say, yes, I am going to put a hammock in my apartment because that’s just not really an acceptable piece of furniture outside of your early 20’s, so…

I’m happy, I think. It’s been awhile since I felt this way. No homework, no stress. Time to read books again, and watch tv, and just lounge about talking about dumb shit with my roommate and our friends. I joined the firm’s softball team. I play slow-pitch softball on the ellipse of the White House. Our game last night got paused because the Secret Service made us clear out. My apartment complex has a pool so I just bought a new bathing suit. Things are looking up.

So I guess my only question is, what’s next?

I Made History… Kind Of?

Last week I admit that I was facing a bit of a conundrum, dear readers. I was all ready to ask  for your input. It was the night before President Obama’s 2nd Inaugural and I just couldn’t decide whether or not I should go. For regular visitors, you’ll know that I am a staunch supporter of Obama. And for that alone I wanted to witness his second inauguration. But there are a few things that made the decision difficult.

1) Obama’s actual second Inauguration took place on Sunday the 20th, in a private ceremony. See, the thing is, since the date of Presidential inaugurations changed from mid-March to the 20th of January, swearing-in ceremonies typically don’t happen on Sundays. Therefore, the official ceremony happened on Sunday in the White House, and the President was simply upholding tradition by having a secondary ceremony on Monday. Did I really want to go see a ‘fake’ ceremony?

2) I’d have to get up at the ass-crack of dawn. I’m a college student, okay? I value my sleep. It is precious to me like little else. Did I really want to be up not at but before 6am on Monday to haul my ass to the National Mall.

2-a) Even if I got myself up and awake before 6am, I still didn’t have an actual ticket to the Inauguration ceremony. The best I could hope for was a prime location in front of a jumbo-tron.

So I guess my dilemma was this: Get up and see the ‘fake’ ceremony just because I could? I mean, I’ll admit that I’m lucky to be living in the nation’s capital. That’s not the question. Rather did I want to bother to get myself up and out of bed to trek the 8 blocks to watch the ceremony on a jumb0-tron or do I watch it from the comfort of my couch? To hike down to the parade route or watch from the window? Go to the Mall for the ceremony AND the parade or do I go for one or another?

I know by now you’re all dying to know so I’ll fess up: I went. I woke up at 6am, layered on an obscene amount of clothing, zipped into my boots and walked. And walked. And walked. And then, just when I was really excited to be done with all the walking, I got to stand around for a few hours. I’m sorry – did I say a few? I meant five hours. In the cold.

And yes, whatever, the ceremony was nice. Yeah, sure, I got to ‘witness history’. And, okay, I admit, I almost cried at three separate points during Obama’s speech. And only 2 people near me needed us to shout for the medic. And I had a good view and our jumbo-tron stopped malfunctioning by the time the ceremony started. But damn did my feet hurt later. Seven hours in boots was not my best idea, I’ll admit. But you know what was a worse idea? The mile walk I made in heels later that night.

Yup, that’s right. Later that night I donned a ball gown and strap myself into high heels and walked a mile to a fancy dinner before cabbing (thankfully) to my university’s Inaugural Ball. The blisters, they were ugly. My feet, they were pained. But dammit I looked pretty and I had a nice time. It was way too crowded, and drinks were way too expensive, and there were too many ballrooms (I kept getting turned around), but it was fun. And I guess now I know what I was missing when I decided not to go to prom.

Cozy, Comfortable, Crisp. My thoughts on November.

It’s mid-November and I’m content. I love being surrounded by the crisp leaves, the afternoon thunderstorms, the cutting wind and the aura of change. It’s a time to be cozy. A time to sit in front of a fireplace; to wear absurd amounts of flannel; to curl up with a lover; to watch football with your friends; for the men to participate in “no shave November.”

The leaves have all fallen. They’re a dark ruddy brown, dead, piled at the bases of the trees they used to adorn. I miss them. I miss the brief period where the leaves change and just start to fall and everyone just seems more aware of nature. Strangely enough, the is the first time in three years I’ve actually had a chance to view autumn in all her glory. As much as I love my adopted home in DC, you sure don’t have the opportunity to see the leaves change. But, in order to enjoy the changing of the leaves (leaf-peeping, it’s a thing!), I have to give up the simple things I enjoy stateside, like my football.

I miss football so much it hurts. While GW doesn’t have a team, I have never wavered in my support of the Alabama Crimson Tide. Unfortunately, there are “geographic restrictions” and a 6-hour time difference keep me from watching my team. It’s fine, I guess. It’s one of the really things that makes me realize, hey, I’m in a foreign country!

I’m also going to miss Thanksgiving this year. It’s not that I don’t love the holiday itself or the three days off from school, but huge Thanksgiving celebrations were never really our thing. I will miss the stuffing. And the potential for turning the leftovers into open-faced turkey sandwiches with gravy fries. Mmm, gravy fries.

But I’ve got to suck it up. To make up for missing Thanksgiving I’m gifting myself a trip to Belgium. It might just be a day trip to Bruges, it might be an entire weekend so that I can see Brussels (and find the elusive Pol’s, a place I’ll have to locate on hearsay from my late grandfather). Originally when I came to the UK I wanted to visit Dublin, Scotland, London, Oxford, Amsterdam, Belgium and Paris. Unfortunately with my class schedule, trips like those became improbable. I’ve ticked Scotland and London off of my list but that leaves a lot of open ends, of unmet goals. So, before I go home, in just one short month I hope that I can at the very least see parts of Belgium and Paris. Not too lofty of goals. Simple, practical, delightful.

There will be challenges. I have papers to write, presentations to make, exams to study for. I have to keep myself from freaking out that I only have a month left to enjoy before I return to the states. I have to keep myself from freaking out that I have to wait a month before I’m back in the states. I’m not necessarily homesick, but I suppose if you said that you wouldn’t be too far from the mark. And then there’s my personal challenge: since I’m not participating in NaNoWriMo, I’ve challenged myself to finish, or at least get 50,000 words written, on one of my three current writing projects. Wish me luck!

Normal: What even is that?

I don’t think I’ll ever have the “quintessential college experience” whatever that may be. It just won’t happen. I’ve had the startling realization and have come to terms with it. It’s fine. Kind of. Sort of. Maybe?

I’m into my third year of college. I am now a junior in college. What even is that? When did this happen? Who decided I was old enough / mature enough / smart enough to get this far? I want to go back to elementary school with its coloring, its book reports, its multiplication tables. Instead I have to endure digital media projects, analytical essays, and statistics. Not fair.

But I have noticed, of late, that my college experience isn’t on par with those of most of my friends from home. Is it because I went out of state? I went to a private school? I’m on an urban campus? I didn’t rush? I don’t know if I’ll ever be certain, but I know some of what I’m missing.

I’ll never go to a college football game because my school doesn’t have a football team. I won’t get to tailgate outside our stadium, because we don’t have a stadium, let alone cars. I’ll never get to enjoy porch drinking, because there are no houses on campus, excluding the tiny town-houses that have no porches – just stoops. I’ll never attend, at least as an undergrad, a university with a male population of which the majority are heterosexual. (Yes, I’m including my study abroad university in that. That’s one thing they don’t advertise that in the guidebooks, let me tell you.)

But it’s more than that. It’s also the fact that I didn’t get to drink PBR or play beer pong until I was hanging out with my brother over summer vacation. Whether that’s because there doesn’t seem to be room for beer pong at school or kids tend to drink liquor, I can’t be certain. I never shotgunned a beer until hanging out with my summer coworkers because, on the off chance we have beer at school, it sure as hell doesn’t come from a can.

What else am I missing out on? Is it because of where I go, or because of who I am and whom I chose to hang out with? If you have any insights, send ’em my way.

Not that I don’t enjoy my college experience; I do. For the most part. GW has its positives: the DC location, dorms down the street from the White House, school-year internships on the Hill, awesome authors and press secretaries and politicians that speak on campus. It can be wonderful, of course, it just doesn’t strike me as conventional, typical, or dare I say it, normal. Maybe when I get back to GW I’ll found a beer-pong league and sponsored flip-cup tournaments? At the very least I’ll take a road trip to Athens, Ohio to enjoy the Spring festivals. I’ll take normalcy, whatever that may be, wherever I can get it.

Of the White House Correspondents Dinner, circa 2011

I think it’s a bit of an understatement, but I’m just going to put it out there. Last weekend was pretty eventful. Seriously, jam-packed. Friday was “bandquet” at the Prime Rib. It was as fun as it was delicious. Sunday night the world at large received the news that Osama bin Laden had been shot and killed in a mansion outside of Islamabad, Pakistan. And then there was Saturday…

I think there should be an actual holiday declared for the last Saturday of April, because it was wonderful and magical and exhilarating. While I’m not actually one for celebrity gossip, I had an amazing time running around DC. Because, governmental or religious recognition or not, Saturday was a holiday and the best one of them all: the day of the White House Correspondent’s Dinner.

The day began with Amanda and I running (figuratively) from campus to the White House all the way to Georgetown to see if we could spot Matthew Morrison with his bff Chace Crawford. Amanda is a little bit in love with Matt Morrison. And, though we scoured the city for the two gorgeous fellows for a good part of the afternoon, we did not find them. But not for lack of trying.

In the evening, Rachel, Amanda and I started walking towards Dupont Circle so that we could hang out at the Washington Hilton, for that’s where the dinner is held.  A surprising number of attendees don’t get dropped off in front of the hotel, but actually just walk up Connecticut Avenue, in gowns and tuxes alike.

The event was exciting for me because for one I was included. I got to spend a wonderful evening with Rachel and Amanda. Also… I’ve never really seen famous people before in real life (discounting politicians, just because.) In the end, this is a list of those stars we saw that I was able to identify. Just for kick’s I’ll compile subgroups:

  • Political – George Stephanopolous’ hair, Bristol Palin, Newt Gingrich, Donald Trump, Colin Powell, Madeline Albright, Bill O’Reilly
  • SNL – Andy Samberg, Bill Heder, Jason Sudeikis, Amy Poehler & Fred Armisen
  • The Hangover – Bradley Cooper, Zach Galifinakis, the groom
  • Other: Chris Colfer, Nina Dobrev & Ian Somerhalder, Omar Epps, Jeremy Piven, Mila Kunis, Jon Hamm, Chelsea Handler, Selma Hayek, Alisa Milano, Michelle Trachtenberg, Rashida Jones, Kenneth the Page, Paula Abdul, Rosario Dawson, and Ryan Kwanten

The most frustrating part of the evening probably came from having to wait for the President’s motorcade. No one can enter the building and the entrances have to be cleared. This happened not only when he arrived, but when he left as well. And, sure, it’s cool to see the President, but we really only end up staring at his motorcade, willing it to just move already. Regardless, it was a fun night. We’ve got big plans for next year and even grander for 2013.

For your entertainment:

I Really Need to Lock. It. Up.

I don’t know if I love this week or hate it. Because if there’s one thing I’m good at, it’s indecision.

The Ups:

There were fireworks. Literally. I walked down to the Mall Saturday night (yes, I’m counting it as part of this week. My week seems to run Saturday-Friday. So what?) with some friends to watch the fireworks that were being set off over the water front to celebrate the Cherry Blossom Festival. So, not just fireworks, but cherry blossoms, too.

Got my offer pack from the University of Sussex. That’s right, chumps. In 5 short months (4 of those summer break! Eat it, nerds!), I’ll be making my way across the pond to tepid summer days. Now that’s what I’m talking about. Also worth looking forward to: accents, fashion, traveling around the UK, traveling around Europe, visiting that place Elizabeth got proposed to by Darcy (the first time), and THIS.

Meh:

Pre-departure Orientation: This Saturday I’m meeting with the study abroad advisers for GW England and talking with a bunch of other students who’ll also be going abroad in the fall. It’s not that I’m not excited for the meeting, because I am, but rather I don’t really have time for this.

The Downs:

School: Right, yeah, I’m at college by my own choice, yadda yadda yadda. That doesn’t mean that I want to be, like, assessed and stuff. Just let me learn and trust I paid attention (jokes). I’m not even worried about finals – that’s what reading week is for. It’s just the papers that are getting to me. Three papers in three weeks. Is there no mercy? As Uncle Jesse would say, “Have mercy!” (Though that might be a smidge out of context.) I turned in my first today, a biography of Charles Preuss. Next week I’m turning in a paper on the alternative belief systems of the European Enlightenment. Like, you know, Deism, Paganism, etc. The week following I have to turn in a dissection of the British Council and their public diplomacy, specifically in regards to the “special relationship” with America.

The weather keeps f*cking with me. Honestly, Mother Nature, just pick something and go with it! I’m sick of this dithering. First you’re cold and rainy, then cold and windy, then hot and windy, then warm and rainy and now just plain warm. I need you to lock it up. Cold and rainy – that’s fine with me. Warm and rainy – a-okay! Windy – sure, why not?! Just lock. it. up.

Okay. Rant done. I’ll just be over here, taking some calm, deep breaths. It’s fine. Radiohead will make me feel better, it always does.

“The Theme of this Club is ‘Love Your Body Day!'”

It makes me sad when WordPress tells me that my last post was “A While Ago.” But, in my defense, I’ve had a lot going on. I had midterms (some of which I actually had to study for! Do you know how tiring that is? I just figured that out.); I had Spring Break (nothing exciting happened. My quest for Blue Bell was foiled.); and now I’ve either got a paper or an exam every week from now until finals. Still, I’ll try and find something to write about.

But, wait! I have had new life developments! I did do something fairly exciting last weekend!  First things first, I was officially accepted to study abroad at the University of Sussex next fall. I have already begun compiling a list of things I want to do once in England. It will be epic (and I do not use that word lightly).

In order to bring some spontaneity and craziness to my life, I reluctantly agreed to go clubbing this past weekend. I’d never been before. (Can you blame me? I don’t know of any clubs in Cleveland, and wouldn’t go even if I did. Because, you know, it’s the Cle.) Anyway, the leader of our troop decided to ease me into it, I suppose, by deciding that we’d go to a gay club. Because, why not? This way I wouldn’t have skeevy guys hitting on me. No, instead we got to witness drag queens signing karaoke. And they were awesome. The music was basically club-remixes of the Top 40. All of the songs were by female artists (Ke$ha, Britney Spears, Rihanna, Lady Gaga, Pink, etc.) It was crowded but not packed, and honestly a whole lot of fun. The best part of all? No cover. Jokes, it was totally the lasers.

This might just be a weekly thing. Check out the exaggerated version of my Saturday night:

And, yes, the overall experience was fairly similar to the HIMYM episode, “Okay Awesome.” Namely because in the same weekend, I, too, broke a tooth. And how muffled the real world sounds when you leave.