“Flash! Bam! Alakazam! And goodbye!” -Nat King Cole
My final days in DC have been full of last minute sightseeing and lots of walking. Yesterday, I went to the National Zoo. The highlight was seeing Tai Shan, the baby Giant Panda – what a cutie!
Next, I walked over to the Washington National Cathedral. I’d run to this spot before, but I actually never went inside. The grounds of the Cathedral are very beautiful with peaceful, little gardens that feel removed from the hubbub of the city. The Cathedral itself is also very attractive; many of the stain glass windows depict interesting historical figures or stories not necessarily of religious significance. And it’s so large the Washington Monument could be laid on its side and practically fit inside!
After spending some time at the Cathedral, I walked the few miles home along Massachusetts Avenue. This is one of my favorite streets in the city; the sides are lined with embassies and many other unique buildings. I also walked down to the National Mall today, a bit of a trek, but totally worth it. On a nice sunny day, there is no better way to see the city.
Today, I had lunch with my friend Susan who graduated last year. It was great to get a post Cornell perspective and hear about her fabulous life in DC.
Afterwards, I went over to the East Building of the National Gallery of Art. This building holds the modern art collection and also special exhibits. I liked some of the works on display, but I personally prefer the older pieces located in the West Building, where I’ve spent most of my time this semester.
With a little daylight to spare, my last stop was the National Archives. Some of the highlights included the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. I also enjoyed the display on one of my favorite childhood authors, Laura Ingalls Wilder!
As of 5pm today, my Metro card is officially zeroed out and I’m feeling a bit museum overloaded. However, walking around the city earlier, I had time to think about my experience here over the past several months. Maybe all good things must come to an end . . . but maybe it also provides an opportunity for people to go out, to use what they learned, to engage in other great experiences and to come back again. Just a thought.
Ok, enough of the goodbye DC sappiness – it has been a great semester, but I’m pretty excited to have a vacation!
“My neighbor asked if he could use my lawnmower and I told him of course he could, so long as he didn’t take it out of my garden.” -Eric Morecambe
Dear Sir in the Apartment Across O Street,
Good Sir, I am deeply sorry. I know the last few days I haven’t been the most hospitable of neighbors. I have to take full responsibility for the situation considering all of my roommates and most of my friends have departed from the beloved CIW Center.
Fine Sir, the last day, you’ve had to endure me dancing and grooving around the room to Destiny’s Child and Nelly. You’ve had to put up with the fire alarm endlessly sounding because of my smoking oven. I truly apologize, as it took some serious cooking and creativity to figure how to use 4 chicken breasts, 2 rolls of cookie dough and enough cheese to feed an entire nation lasagna for 6 months.
Excellent Sir, you may ask yourself, why does this young woman twist and turn and bake and burn? Well, with this, I can help – it’s all about the paper. Yesterday, while having her final original research paper on how tort law influences health care costs (yeah, I’m kind of scared too) bound at a nearby store, she noticed a few scraps of paper in her purse. With her last bits of energy after some late nights, she pitched the paper over the wide counter into the looming trashcan – and hit nothing but plastic (bag). She even got a “Nice Shot,” from a bystander.
So, Superior Sir, it’s all about the paper. The just turned in paper, or the LeBron James wannabe skills – you decided which has spurred her Granco bars (a Gusz baking specialty) and grooves of late.
Yours in All Things O Street,
“All are needed by each one; nothing is fair or good alone.” -Ralph Waldo Emerson
It’s crazy to think that my time here in Washington is quickly coming to a close. As with the end to every semester, it is currently a busy mix of friends and final papers.
One of the highlights of the weekend was an eclectic spot called Busboys and Poets. A combination restaurant, bar, bookstore and jazz club, part of the mission of Busboys and Poets is to provide a ” . . . place for people who believe that social justice and peace are attainable goals. . . . Busboys and Poets creates an environment where shared conversations over food and drink allow the progressive, artistic and literary communities to dialogue, educate and interact.”
One of my favorite parts of the location was a huge mural on the wall. It featured historic figures who are typically revered for their contributions to social equality, but others who also presented challenges to this goal. The mural also included some notable quotations relating to this theme. A great atmosphere, jazz, food and conversation helped contribute to some new memories.
Most of my friends are leaving in the next day or so after our big paper is due. I’ll be in DC through Friday to wrap up a few things at work. It’ll be strange being here without all of them. But I can’t complain too much, since Hudson is covered in snow, and I’ve only seen a few flurries here at DC Beach.
Oh Ithaca, I can’t wait for what you’ve got in store for me.
“First they came for the socialists,
and I did not speak out -
Because I was not a socialist.
Then they came for the trade unionists,
and I did not speak out -
Because I was not a trade unionist.
Then they came for the Jews,
and I did not speak out -
Because I was not a Jew.
Then they came for me-
and there was no one left to speak for me.”
-Attributed to Martin Niemoller
This past week, I went the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. This is not a place I can lucidly describe, but one I think it is valuable for every person to experience at some point in their lives. The sights, sounds and smells are subjects I can’t do justice to with words.
My friend BC pointed out that our generation is one of the last that will know Holocaust survivors. The lessons of this horrific atrocity, no matter how distant or unlikely they may seem – are ones we can’t ever let slip away.
“And airports, see it all the time / Where someone’s last goodbye / Blends in with someone’s sigh / Cause someone’s coming home / In hand, a single rose . . . ” -John Mayer
As a child of the Midwest, I’m pretty used to hopping in the family’s ’94 Suburban (fondly called “The Burb”) to complete my travels.
However, the past few months, I’ve found myself much more dependent on public transportation. I like living in the city and being able to walk to most places of interest or pick up the Metro.
Unfortunately, BWI is not within walking distance and traveling home for Thanksgiving – also one of the busiest travel times of the year – was quite an endeavor. I took five modes of transportation to get from O Street to Hudson, OH, and four to return. By the time I arrived in Dupont on Sunday night, I was worn down and realized what people actually mean when they return from a busy trip more tired than when they left.
But when I was two blocks from the CIW center, the area became more residential. Taking a minute to look around, I realized many of our neighbors had put up seasonal decorations and trimmings. The area really looked beautiful and was unusually quiet. It made me appreciate the moment and start to enjoy the spirit of the season. Despite my short and busy weekend, it was enjoyed with friends and family – and as sappy as this may seem, that is what the holidays are really about, right?
So here’s to turkey and Tiny Tim – a great holiday season is hopefully underway.
“Dost thou love life? Then do not squander time, for that the stuff life is made of.” – Benjamin Franklin
As my days here in DC quickly dwindle, it’s a fight against time to see how many museums, monuments, finals and papers I can get through. Some of the highlights of the last few days include . . .
- A trip to the 9:30 Club, a hip spot to enjoy great music. My friends and I headed over to the favorite DC location a few days ago to hear the band My Morning Jacket.
- Thursday night we found ourselves in Chinatown watching The Departed. A flick about cops in the Boston area, I’d highly recommend it – great cast and good story.
- Friday I received a personalized two hour Capitol tour from my friend Greg. I’d been to parts of the building previously, but I’d never seen many of the highlights, including the Old Supreme Court Chamber, the Old Senate Chamber and the Whisper Room. Greg also provided a number of interesting anecdotes about the building (the painting on the inside of the Rotunda has more square footage than my house and could fit the Statue of Liberty inside it). From floor to ceiling, I was awed by the beauty throughout the building – it’s a DC must see!
- Last night, a group of us headed over to Old Town Alexandria for a seafood dinner. King Street has a wonderful atmosphere, a bit like Georgetown, with a variety of boutiques and darling restaurants. We topped off our great dinner with some homemade ice cream, too.
- Today, I headed over to the National Gallery of Art for our last lecture with Dr. Denker. This trip included the American and British collections. A period of art I am not as familiar with, it was great to here Dr. Denker’s stories and ever illuminating insight regarding the different works.
- And in case you were wondering, we all are still students here . . . there are some serious paper deadlines and finals quickly approaching!
The end of the semester always comes with the pressure to squeeze in as much as possible – and this is even more true here in DC. The Cornell challenge of balancing “work and play” has never been more applicable!
“The motorcade . . . is an impressive sight: a long line of dark cars, flashing lights, sirens and enough weapons to start, or stop, a small war.” -Mary Cheney
Elle Woods suggests the bend and snap. Tom Cruise recommends jumping on couches. Dennis Rodman stays safe – he sticks with the dependable hair dye.
But no worry, my friends, I have created the perfect recipe for stopping traffic. I guarantee it works every time. You don’t have to be young, good looking or even have a straight shot!
Ingredients: Lots of big, black, bad looking SUVs and many friends who have large guns.
Makes: All pedestrians, cars, trains, planes and busses within a 5 mile radius stop moving due to loud sirens and the size of your impressively blinged posse. Everyone else in the world is now late, but you’ll always be on time!
Sounds pretty good, right? Now you’ll just need a few hundred of your best friends and some really loud whistles and bells to make it work.
Or, just become my neighbor who lives a bit down Mass. Ave. Hey, did you see the front of the Post, Dick? How are Lynne and the girls doing? Been back to Wyoming recently?
Oh, and nice wheels Mr. V.P. Where can I get (15) sets like that?
“I cry, Love! Love! Love! happy happy Love! free as the mountain wind!” -William Blake
My roommate Sarah is the Washington Liaison (no not intern, she has a real title!) for Appalachian Voices, a group that concentrates on environmental issues facing the Appalachian region. She invited me to tag along to an evening reception that featured the executive director of the organization last week.
After mingling and enjoying a variety of tasty and crunchy (literally and figuratively) delectables, we heard a few speakers highlight how people can help solve environmental problems. The woman from Appalachian Voices concentrated on the topic of Mountain Top Removal Mining.
Mountain Top Removal (MTR) is a practice used by mining companies in the Appalachian region during which 22 story machinery removes complete tops of mountains in order to reach valuable coal. The controversy surrounding this practice is that it often has negative economic influence on the region, causes safety concerns and also destroys natural resources, beauty and habitats.
I had never heard of MTR until I asked this girl down the hall freshman year why she had a sticker on her laptop that said, “I <3 up mountains.” That girl ended up being Sarah, and since that time, her passion has encouraged many interesting conversations and research papers.
Like many other environmental issues, MTR is a practice we will all have to questions in the coming decades as the realities of population, energy, biodiversity and green space collide. Most recently, Willie Nelson, Leonardo DiCaprio and Oprah have brought the practice of MTR to the forefront of national debate.
Give it up to Sarah, our Cornellian, for being a trendsetter.
“I love the whole princess mentality, but I also like throwing my hair in a ponytail and just wearing jeans, going on a hike and then eating a big chili-cheeseburger.” -Jennifer Love Hewitt
Training for the marathon caused me to eat pretty healthy. I figured it was important I had good fuel made of all that stuff Mom tells you to eat.
But sometimes, you just can’t listen to Mom.
Once in awhile, we all need a Ben’s Original Chili Half-Smoke.
I’m pretty sure most of you have no idea what that is, as I didn’t before Friday night. Ben’s Chili Bowl is a DC legend as far as food good for the soul and for an intern’s nonexistent salary, but probably not so much for the arteries. Located on U Street, Ben’s is in the heart of a funky and fun area of the District. And the late night hot spot has quite a history, as proven by the smiling, chili adorned celebrities who grace the walls.
After advice from some regulars, I decided on the Half-Smoke, a crazy combination of chili, sausage and everything-else-but-the-kitchen-sink on top of a bun. It’s the kind of thing you can probably have only once in a lifetime, and only the brave and strong of heart can handle two.
I might need to run another marathon to clear all of the cholesterol, but it’ll be worth it.
“The stage is not merely the meeting place of all the arts, but it is also the return of art to life.” -Oscar Wilde
A great aspect of living in DC is the opportunity it provides to enjoy the arts. I’ve seen two great shows since I moved here a few months ago.
In October, many of us went over to the Arena Stage to see Cabaret. Although the musical ends on somewhat of a downer, I still enjoyed the songs and story. The Arena Stage is a neat theater in that it is set up with the stage in the middle of the room with all of the seats surrounding the performance area.
Tonight, I headed over to the Folger Theater to see A Midsummer Night’s Dream. The Folger Theater is small in size and has a historic feel. The play was set in the 1930s while still using Shakespeare’s original lines. I found the production engaging, although a bit long to sit through after several hours in the car heading back up from Ithaca. However, the story is timeless and funny, and I really liked some of the costumes.
And after a busy weekend, I’m off to sleep . . . perchance to dream . . .