Friday, August 31, 2007

Goodbye, Washington!

In less than 24 hours, I will be on an airplane on my way back to Oregon. It's been an amazing summer and I loved my internship, but I can't wait to get back. I miss the Northwest, as I've said many times. I have three hours left of work and my boss has yet to go over my evaluation with me, so I don't quite know if they liked me as much as I liked working here, but here's hoping it'll be good news ...

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Two More Days

I have just two days left of my internship. I'm thrilled to go back to Oregon, but sad to leave this specific job. It's too bad I can't just teleport back and forth each day.
The process of leaving means cleaning what appears to be a very messy desk, but is really quite clean compared to the desks of those who have been here a while and aren't leaving anytime soon. Note in the photos: the Styrofoam cup (holding disgusting "k-cup" coffee). I hate the use of Styrofoam. It's so bad for the environment, as are all the plastic thingies the coffee is brewed in. Also note: the piles of soda cans and bottles, left on my desk because as I've mentioned, there is no readily-available recycling facility anywhere that I go in DC. The friends in the outskirts seem to have access, but there's nowhere to take these from work. No recycle bin in the building, nothing. It's driving me nuts.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Goodbye, apartment!

Saturday morning, I moved out of my apartment in D.C., to spend my last week sleeping at friends' places. Crowded and expensive as it was, a part of me will miss my little basement apartment. In this photo, the windows on the bottom left of the picture, touching the ground, belong to my apartment.

Friday, August 24, 2007

What I won't miss about my DC apartment . . .

The one thing that I will not miss about my apartment here in DC? (Ok, there are lots of reasons I'm glad to leave, but really, this is THE reason, aside from the astronomical rent):

These things live there too .

Wikipedia tells me they eat cockroaches, which freak me out almost as much, if not more. But seriously, just looking at this picture makes every hair on my body stand on end and I can't stop twitching.

One more week!

Today was my last day in my apartment on Capitol Hill. I actually move out tomorrow morning to spend my last week here sleeping on friends' couches, but this was the last full day. This morning, I realized I hadn't been inside the Supreme Court yet (they're not in session now, which is very sad for me). So, I stopped by on the way to the subway station. I must say, as happy as I am to go back to Oregon, I'm going to miss saying, "I stopped by the Supreme Court this morning." Anyway, I didn't have a lot of time to look around or take a tour or anything, but I had my happy nerdy moment and will have to prioritize hanging out there (and going to hear oral arguments) the next time I come here. Here are some pictures from my crappy cell phone camera (two things to note here: 1) I really need a new digital camera and 2) my birthday is Sept. 24.):

The actual courtroom.

A statue of Chief Justice John Marshall

One of two spiral staircases. As I didn't have time to figure out what everything is, I'm not sure what the big deal here is, but there were signs pointing to them so I took a picture (you couldn't go up the stairs or get any closer than where I stood to take this photo, hence you can't really see the stairs.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

The end is coming

This past weekend was one of my last to spend time exploring Washington. Next weekend, I have to move out of my apartment to sleep on friends' couches for a few days before I head home on Sept. 1.

For once, Saturday was a beautiful day. It was just the perfect temperature with a slight breeze and hardly any humidity. I decided I needed to spend my day outdoors. I got a ticket to the Washington Nationals baseball game against the Mets.(Yes, I realize that they suck -- as the Mets fan sitting next to me pointed out, they were projected to have the worst record in the history of baseball this year.)I've been wanting to go and it seemed like a good day to sit in the ballpark. Because the game wasn't until evening, I spent the day walking around.

First, I went to the FDR memorial, which is awesome. If you saw it and didn't know anything about American history or how the government works, you'd think he had founded the country or that he was a king. Unlike the other memorials (Lincoln, Jefferson, etc.), it's not just one statue of the president inside a pretty building. It's an expansive outdoor memorial with large granite walls engraved with several FDR quotes. There are about six waterfalls, an interesting engraving on the wall that has braille and recessed images of faces and big columns that have images of handprints on them. There are several statues. One is of FDR in his wheelchair, which I guess was pretty controversial when it was built, because he tried to hide his polio while he was president. There's another statue I really like of FDR in a chair with a statue of his dog (a terrier named Fala) sitting at his feet. I thought it was neat that they included the dog because it showed something personal about him. He's not just this mythical figure, he's a guy who loved his dog. There's also a statue of Eleanor Roosevelt and several statues representing people standing in a bread line during the Depression. It's really just a neat place and is rather peaceful. It's right on the Tidal Basin and you can look across the water at the Jefferson Memorial and the Washington Monument reflects in the water. I think if I lived here, I'd hang out there just to sit and read.

Then, while walking back, not wanting to go home because 1) It would cost me more money to go home then go to the baseball game on the subway then to just go to the game from where I was and 2) it was too nice outside to go in, I walked around the garden at the Smithsonian Castle. It was a fairly normal garden, but I found myself walking up to the entrance to the National Museum of African Art. The art museums are the one thing I haven't seen yet (last weekend I went to the American Indian museum. It's very cool but there's a lot more reading to do there than there is at other places). The African art is beautiful. There were a lot of really cool masks and sculptures. They had a really interesting display about language, with all sorts of different displays about how language is represented in art.

Anyway, that night I went to the baseball game and sat out in the bleachers (which is actually not as fun at RFK stadium as it is in other places because the seats aren't right over the wall. They're up high and you can't really see the entire outfield), surrounded by Mets fans. I rooted for the Nationals on principle -- if I go see a game and don't care about either team, I root for the home team, if nothing else to avoid getting my butt kicked -- but man, it's hard. Those guys tried really hard, but they're just not a good team. I was surrounded by Mets fans and had a fun time listening to the guys next to me (brothers from Long Island, they told me), give each other a hard time during the game. Sadly, the Mets fans were way louder than the Nationals fans, who seemed to me to lack a bit of heart. Even if the team is dead last, you've got to be more ... something.

Anyhow, the last two weeks of my internship are underway and the excitement of going home combined with the sadness of leaving are creating an interesting mix of emotions. The stress of having to clean up my apartment and figuring out to do with the things I can't pack isn't helping.

I can't wait to get back and see everyone, though. I'll be back at the school paper right away, which is very exciting. I miss it. School itself, I'm not super excited about right now, but I'll get there.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

It's HOT

Today, the temperature in Washington, D.C. broke a 77-year-old record, according to the Washington Post. At 102 with a heat index of 105, it was so hot that the Metro rail system took precautions and made the trains slow down by about 15 m.p.h. Apparently, when it's this hot, the steel tracks can soften.

That's right. It's so damn hot here that the rail tracks could melt (ok, that's an exaggeration).

I suppose I should be grateful to not be in New York, where rains closed the subway and a tornado hit Brooklyn.

This weather SUCKS.

Meanwhile, I see it's only 79 in Eugene right now.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007


Ok, so I'll be nice and warn you all that you may think this post is gross. Don't read it while eating unless you're a medical student. That is all. You've been warned. If you skip to the bottom, you'll miss the "gross" stuff.

Saturday, in search of something to do that involved air conditioning, I went to see an exhibit called "Bodies," that is one of several such exhibits around the nation. It was expensive, but well worth it. Some of you know that I really like medical stuff and for the majority of my life, before I fell in love with journalism, wanted to be a veterinarian. I briefly considered going to medical school but didn't want to do an internship (I can't function without sleep). So anyway, I heard about this exhibit when it first opened a while back and remember the controversy. I thought it would be fun. As it turns out, it was probably the most interesting thing I've seen since I've been here.

So it's pretty much what it sounds like. A university in China has pioneered this method of preserving human bodies/organs by removing all the liquid and replacing it with this polymer stuff that makes the cadavers/parts hold their shape and color. The exhibit consists of these specimens and has a different area to teach you about each system of the body. The whole bodies are posed in ways that show off whatever system the particular display is of, and the organs are set up to really show how they work (there are of course descriptions of everything on plaques inside the display cases). It's really in-depth and you get to see so much you'd probably only otherwise see if you went to medical school. Even if you took human anatomy, you probably wouldn't see anything this in-depth unless you took several classes and did a lot of work with cadavers.

A lot of the parts have tumors or other diseases, which I thought was really interesting. It puts things in perspective to know what exactly happens to bodies. The grossest thing was an enormous teratoma (tumor) -- about the size of a basketball -- that had teeth, an eyeball and a hair inside. I've heard about those before because I watch a lot of medical shows, but seeing one was so weird. It reminds me of that scene in "My Big Fat Greek Wedding" where the aunt scares the guy's parents by telling them how she had one a teratoma ("Inside the lump was my twin.") Anyway, it definitely got the most responses from the other people there.

My absolute favorite part was the display of the cardiovascular system. They'd done something with the polymer where they filled all the blood vessels and them removed the flesh entirely so that you could see just the blood vessels of the various body parts (organs, an entire leg, an arm, etc) with nothing else to get in the way. It was really neat. They had an entire body that was just the blood vessels. It's amazing. I took anatomy and you can look at pictures of the blood vessels, but to see a real body displayed like that and realize just how complex it really is was amazing.

Near the lung cancer display they had a big clear box and a sign asking people who were disturbed by the blackened lungs to leave their cigarettes there. It wasn't anywhere near full, but there were quite a few packs in there. I wonder how many people see that and decide to quit. If I smoked, I would have quit right then. It's pretty disturbing.

Anyway, that was my day Saturday. After the museum, I trekked out to a mall in Maryland and blew a good portion of my paycheck (mostly on things that I needed. Spent a LOT of time waiting around for the subway that day, but it was actually kind of nice to spend the day doing things that were less touristy. The exhibit seemed to attract more local-types and the mall was certainly not a tourist destination (too far away, nothing special there), so things were less crowded. Sunday was another day of grocery shopping, but this time, given the AWFUL heat, I decided I didn't want to carry heavy bags, so I took my wheeley carry-on suitcase and put my insulated Trader Joe's bag inside. It was a fabulous idea. Those bags get so heavy and walking through the heat to and from the subway (uphill) is usually a nightmare. But the wheel bag helped. I can't wait to get back to a place where I can just drive to the store.

Work is going well. It's not as glamorous as reporting, and every day is kind of the same thing, but I enjoy it. I'm making some good connections and getting fantastic experience. It has definitely been suggested to me that my bosses here know people at other papers the company owns, so I'm starting to feel excellent about my chances of getting a job after graduation. I definitely am getting the best opportunity possible out of my placement here.

I'm considering going up to New York to see "Rent" on broadway in a couple of weeks, but it has not been possible to save any money while I've been here. I mean, I didn't have to spend the money I did in gift shops, but even counting that, I've really only spent about $100 on totally unnecessary things. A lot has gone just to sales taxes. I know I say that Oregon needs a sales tax to help pay for schools/social services, etc. and I stand by that, but man... after not paying them my entire life, having to live somewhere where I do, it really eats up your money.

Between owing on some bills here and back home; the fact that they take out hundreds of dollars a month in taxes and a really dumb mistake involving scanning my debit card (with a very small amount in my account) instead of my EBT card (which did have enough) at the grocery, leading to a panic-inducing amount of overdraft fees, I've made way less than I thought I would. I mean, I'll come back with about half of what I thought I would have. I'm just hoping I get all these DC city taxes back in April, given that I only lived here for three months. My goal was to come back with way more than enough money to last through fall term. I'll have enough to make my major purchase -- a new laptop -- but not much else. It's kind of sad. I could have managed money better, but I really didn't spend much on things I couldn't use. Then again, a lot of people take non-paying internships, so I'm thrilled to have found something that pays.

Anyway, the next paycheck will be the first one that was totally bill-free. I can save every penny. So, if there are still tickets left, I'm going to go see "Rent." I've of course seen several different touring casts, but right now, two of the original cast members (Anthony Rapp and Adam Pascal) are back on Broadway and I'd love to see them. I have no idea if my plan for making this work is even feasible, but it would certainly be fun.

I apologize for the lengthy posts. I tend to start writing just to kill time and every thought I have comes out.

Friday, August 03, 2007


Hey all. As the Smithsonian American History museum is closed for the summer, there is a display of "American treasures" at the Air and Space Musuem. They're mostly from pop culture (movies, tv shows, etc), but some are items that belonged to historical figures. They've got the gown Jackie Kennedy wore to the Inaugural Ball, the ruby slippers and Scarecrow outfit from the Wizard of Oz ... all kinds of neat stuff. Here are some photos taken with my dinky cell phone camera.

Kermit! I can't remember how old this Kermit is, but it's one of the first, I think.

This is Abraham Lincoln's hat. At the Library of Congress, they have a display of the things he had with him the night he was shot, but they don't allow pictures. I think the clothing he wore that day is on display at Ford's Theatre. I haven't been there yet.


The puffy shirt from Seinfeld.

Thursday, August 02, 2007

You might be a journalist if you ...

The first item on this list was added by yours truly prior to posting the list here. I did not submit it to the site where I found the list.
* corrected the grammar on this list before posting it.
* feel stupid when you can't come up with something more creative than your co-workers.
* like to hang out with your right-brained friends because you're the "wild one."
* aren't concerned with losing your job because it's such a piss-poor field you know they would be doing you a favor.
* understand where the term "starving artist" derived.
* talk in "headline speak" for shits and grins.
* correct your church bulletin with a pen during the service or mark up any newsletter that comes in the mail while you're on the phone.
* insist on explaining to everyone where the grammar mistakes are in any publication or sign.
* actually understand the correct use of commas, semicolons and colons.
* hope you don't get an assignment that requires a lot of driving because your car might break down.
* enjoy reading your dictionary and quizzing your co-workers and friends.
* read an e-mail several times before sending it and making at least three editing changes.
* are pressured into making a list because two other journalist-types already have.
* play Scrabble and go for the word that is the most impressive, rather than the highest scoring.
* kept all the books you read in college but haven't touched them since.
* point out that someone made a grammatical error and your friends/significant others just smile and nod.
* silently deride your reporters' stupidity every time you find a mistake.
* hear about a murder on TV and sigh with relief when you realize it's not in your "coverage area."
* are bothered by the fact that you can't come up with anything clever enough for a list about what writers/journalists actually do.
* mock incorrect grammar while allowing yourself any and all "creative" uses. You are, in fact, a professional.
* are able to attribute your misspellings, such as "independance" or "milenium" to your editors' lack of skill. It's the whole point of having editors, right?
* have ever figured out how much more income you could bring in as manager of Taco Bell.
* have been prescribed at least three different anti-depressants.
* have seriously considered joining the peace corps but couldn't for fear of being stationed nowhere near a Gap.
* like to eat out but don't order wine or appetizers because you can't afford it.
* have ever spent more than three hours in a cafe and used your debit card to pay for your $1.69 grande coffee.