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Archive for August, 2010

First of all, thanks for all the well-wishing yesterday! Class went better than I’d hoped, particularly considering it was economics. And, even without my Wonder Woman lunch box (or rather, I suppose for grad school it would be a dinner box), I’m ready to go again tonight.

And now that I can be completely calm and carefree about my own experience, I can reflect on some of the things I noticed yesterday.

You see, some of my classes are on the undergrad campus. And so, when I biked down yesterday I had to dismount sooner than expected – due to the hordes. I don’t know if you’ve noticed (or, if you remember from your own college experience), but freshmen are incapable of walking in packs of fewer than five. They are the biggest proponent of the “strength in numbers” theory, and I get that. But it also made me realize that the only difference, really, between freshmen and tourists is a fanny pack.

Photo Credit

Think about it:

1) Travel: They both travel in packs, and manage to take up an entire sidewalk, regardless of the size of the group. I suppose it’s understandable (though not appreciated) when the group is five across because they simply can’t stand not walking next to each other. But it boggles my mind how just two people can take up the same space. Regardless, let’s try either a) the buddy system – walk with a partner, or b) walk like you like each other. You don’t have to hold hands, but we’re not in middle school dance mode either, so you don’t have to be quite so far apart.

2) Directions: Now, tourists are more likely to ask a stranger for them (though, after the Criminal Minds episode I watched last night, I won’t be stopping to help), but the similarity comes in when they don’t ask. Both tourists and freshmen have this habit of stopping dead in their tracks to pull out a map/look around/debate which way they want to turn. I’m going to say this as nicely as possible: if you don’t want me to run face first into your back (or run you over), MOVE TO THE SIDE.

3) Escalators: It’s not stand-in-the-middle-and-marvel-at-the-fact-that-you-don’t-have-to-exert-any-energy-to-get-to-the-metro. It’s stand right, walk left. I don’t know why this is so hard, but I’ve seen countless first year grad students doing it, too. Please stop. Seriously.

4) Monuments: This is more of a “know your surroundings” type of thing. You will be scoffed at if you confuse the memorials of Lincoln and Jefferson. Or if you don’t recognize the White House. And especially if someone says “the Mall” and you ask about shopping. I wish I could say I’d never heard that…but I’d be lying.

5) Wonder: Not all of the similarities are negative. In fact, the way that both groups wonder at and enjoy a new city is fantastic. They get excited about seeing the aforementioned monuments, or catching a glimpse of the motorcade. They love the ties to history, and the newness of discovering these things for the first time.

Which means that I was wrong. The fanny pack isn’t the only difference.

Freshmen will eventually acclimate. At some point they’ll look back over a list like this and be just as frustrated with a new throng of freshmen, and the continuous influx of tourists. And they’ll also become a little bit jaded, over the monuments, and only seeing the motorcade as an interruption to their busy day.

Tourists, on the other hand, will never realize that you actually can walk on an escalator.

But they’ll always be awed by the city.

Photo Credit

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I’ve always loved the whole going-back-to-school season. I love the school supplies shopping, the newness of everything, and the way I can pretend that this is the year that all those organizational tools I’ve bought will actually keep me organized.

It’s worth a shot.

Funny enough, H told me to add crayons to my schools supplies list, "just because." We'll see...

I also love planning out my back-to-school outfit. I actually still remember what I wore on the first day of school from about second grade (a matching shorts and t-shirt combo, that may have involved some plaid) through ninth (the main piece was one of those Old Navy fleece vests – they were very in that year). And, while some of those outfits should never be repeated (let’s be honest, denim on denim doesn’t look good on anyone, and I’m sad that my mother let me out of the house in it, even if it was 1995), I still remember just how much thought and preparation went into planning that style.

I did it again for today, my first first-day-back-to-school in four years.

I know it’s grad school. I know I’ve already met a bunch of people at orientation. I know that I’m 25 and unlikely to make the same fashion mistakes as I did fifteen years ago. But it’s tradition.

I have the new school supplies (no crayons just yet). I have my planner. I’ve ordered my books. I have my backpack.

And so I also picked out my first-day-of-school, I’m-all-growed-up, confidence-inducing outfit, the night before, just to be complete.

I still wish I had my Wonder Woman lunch box, though, for that extra dose of security.

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I’ve spent the past two days immersed in orientation activities. I have chatted and networked and bonded and bitched and been overwhelmed all in a very short time, and there’s still plenty more to come. But I have noticed several things within the past 48 hours:

  • There will always be “that girl” who wants to go above and beyond everyone else who’s going above and beyond and who doesn’t realize (or care) just how obnoxious she’s being. And I don’t have to be friends with her – even if she is in my program.
  • There will also always be “that other girl” who, at the networking reception has one drink too many and proceeds to knock empties off the table, so that they shatter on the patio. And, because we’re all still high schoolers at heart, the rest of the class will say, “oooooooohh!”
  • I’m no longer either of those girls. (Or, at least, I wasn’t yesterday.)
  • There is a bigger difference between a 22-year-old and a 25-year-old than you might initially guess.
  • Riding a bike back home after the aforementioned reception probably wasn’t my best idea, but I learned that it is doable. For future reference.
  • And speaking of biking in the city, I think I’m ready to check off that whole “comfortable riding in the streets” thing. Because when I yell at drivers (mostly when they can’t hear me), I know I’ve started to bike like I drive. For better or worse.
  • First impressions are SO important, and will undoubtedly set the tone for whatever friendships follow.
  • If all professors had British accents, I’d pay much more attention in class.
  • Grad schools are apparently the new eharmony/match.com/chemistry/etc, considering nearly every administrator mentioned stories of students meeting their current spouses and having babies. That should be a perk, not your selling point.
  • And finally, judging from all the information I’ve gathered in the past couple days, I was right about having no life once classes start. I’m torn: I love being right (who doesn’t?), but I’ll miss my sanity. Or rather, what was left of it.

Anyway, I’ll be finishing all my back to school shopping this weekend, along with a healthy dose of softball tomorrow. So long, sweet summer.

Happy Friday!

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Most young professionals who live in DC, and many that don’t, recognize the city as a transient one. It’s often just a stop between places, not the one where you settle down. It’s also somewhat of a shock to hear someone say they’re from DC – because here, we’re all from somewhere else. Even now, after being here for a few years, I still say that I’m originally from Philly. Because I am.

But I’ve realized lately that being from DC can sometimes be relative.

Between econ classes, the majority of us trek across the street to Starbucks in order to refuel, and we’ve gotten to talking about specific programs we’ve signed up for, what we’re looking forward to and dreading about grad school, and what we’ve been up to around the city.

And the other day, I heard the following exchange:

Girl #1: “Have you heard about this little bar right by the school? Froggy Bottom Pub?”

Girl #2: “Oh my gosh, is that really what it’s called?”

Girl #1: “Yeah! Isn’t that funny? Just like Foggy Bottom!”

All the while I’m thinking, well, duh. That’s where we go after softball. And it’s right up the street from class – how could you have missed it?

And then:

Girl #1: “And have you checked out Eastern Market yet? It’s so cute, with these little produce stands, and all this stuff!”

Girl #2: “No! I’ve been meaning to get down there. That sounds so fun!”

Now, I realize that this would have been a perfect moment to go ahead and be friendly, and potentially end up giving helpful DC pointers. But I did interject after the first Froggy Bottom comment. (Not with what I was thinking, thank you very much, but with something very pleasant. Saying how much fun the bar was, how our team loves the bartender, etc.) And Girl #1, who was so excited about all these new things in DC that she’d just discovered, looked at me like I had just rained on her parade by even knowing about her new bar. So I stopped.

One of the guys had heard most of the exchange, and asked me how long I’d been in DC.

Just about 3 years now.

Wow! So you’re a local!

I can honestly say that that’s the first time anyone has ever called me a DC local. And that’s not a bad thing – compared to him and the other two girls in the exchange, I guess I am. But it just made Girl #1’s reaction even stranger. If you’re in a new city, don’t you want tips from a so-called local, even if you don’t plan on following any of them?

So much for being friendly.

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When I told my mom about my motorcycle ride last Thursday, she asked me one question: “Did you sing?”

See, I have this habit of singing to calm my nerves. For instance, years ago I was rock climbing in Acadia when it started to storm. I still had to rappel down the cliff I was on, so I sang on the way down to take my mind off it. I didn’t realize until afterward that I’d been singing “Free Fallin’.”

Anyway, my mother asked the question because she remembers a very specific moment during one family vacation. We’d gone on a cruise to Bermuda, and while we were on the island, my parents rented mopeds. My dad was totally comfortable, zooming around, taking the turns, and completely adjusting to driving on the other side of the road.

So of course my brother got to ride with him.

I could feel that Mama wasn’t so comfortable on the moped. And I could feel the uneasiness turn to annoyance once I started singing. But, considering I was nervous, too (I was sure that I was going to fall right off the back, particularly with every bump in the road), I wasn’t about to stop.

My thoughts exactly. Before *and* after my experience.

So when Mama asked me this time, if I’d sung on Bones’ bike, I told her, “No. I trusted him. I knew he wasn’t going to tip the bike!”

Because that’s what happened in Bermuda.

Day two on the mopeds, after Mama had already mentioned how much she did NOT appreciate my singing, we set off for the beach. Mama took a turn to try to follow Daddy, and the next thing I knew we were skidding, and then on the side of the road with the bike tipped over on top of us. We were okay, luckily, but I was [even more] nervous on the bike the rest of the trip.

Even years later, the first time I rode on the back of a friend’s scooter I had Bermuda flashbacks. So it’s perfectly natural that my mom would ask about the singing after this most recent ride.

But to be honest, if I’d had any doubts about my safety, I wouldn’t have even gotten on. A moped tips over and you scrape your leg a bit. A motorcycle tips over, and marathon training is put on hold indefinitely.

Plus, at the speed we were going, if I’d been singing I probably would have done this:

And that’s just gross.

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Like motorcycles, for instance.

And after last night, not only do I like them even more, but I can also officially check another item off my 25 list.

I knew that one of the guys on the softball team, Bones, had a motorcycle. I’ve been begging him for a ride for the better part of a year, if not longer. So imagine my excitement when this little email pops up in my inbox a couple weeks ago: “The bike is running like a champ, so pay your life insurance up and come ready to ride on Thursday.” Done and done.

Except for the thunderstorms that week, which meant postponing the ride.

And then the thunderstorms the week after that, which meant postponing again.

But last night, Mother Nature was on my side. That ride was everything I thought it would be – and more.

I was expecting a thrill – something that might have me screaming, clutching on to Bones for dear life, and maybe peeing my pants a little. Like a roller coaster ride.

What I got was all of the thrill and none of the scared. I felt more comfortable than I ever imagined I would zooming down the parkway, and leaning into the turns.

I still don’t want to drive one, but I can’t wait to ride again.

And now, the picture book version:

Here we go! You can tell I’m excited because I’m already wearing the helmet – even just to walk across the softball field to the bike.

See? So excited! And perhaps a little nervous.

I did try to take one photo looking badass, but even with the flames on the bike and the helmet, that look doesn’t really suit me.

Hop on! I’ll give you a ride. (You’re safe, since I don’t have the key.)

Just sit back. There’s where you can put your feet. Yes, of course you can hang on to me. You’ll be fine.

Now get ready for the ride of your life!

(Okay, he may or may not have said that. But that’s what I heard.)

And away we vroomed!

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Today, as the title would suggest, is my moving day. Rather, my office moving day.

Because I’m transitioning into part-time at work, so I can be a full-time student, I’m being moved from my cubicle to an office usually reserved for interns.

At first, I saw this as kind of a downgrade.

I saw it as being kicked out of my desk (the one I’ve been at for nearly 3 years) and moving to an office that I’ll eventually be sharing (with an intern), all in favor of a new employee – who actually shares my name. Talk about feeling replaced.

But then, after a little dose of perspective (thanks to the bf, since I was being a cranky pants), I started to think along the lines of, yay! I get an office! And the intern and I won’t have the same schedule, so most of the time it’ll be my own! And I get a pretty flower to add a little color to the place!

Suffice it to say, I was feeling pretty positive about the whole thing.

And then I started packing this morning. It’s amazing how much stuff can accumulate over the course of a few years.

Not to mention the drawers I’ve filled, or all the shoes I’ve left at the office, at one point or another.

About 7 pairs, I think, at last count.

But, in keeping with the positive spin, lugging these boxes o’ stuff will certainly be my strength training for the day.

Plus, with an office, think of all the new privacy I’ll have for blogging! Priorities, you know.

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