Sunday, July 26, 2015

A Weekend One Month In

Hi everybody!

I can hardly believe it has been over one whole month in DC. This month has mostly been filled with adjusting to a new home and work rather than school and really a new life in general. Adjusting can sometimes be really difficult, but it is also rather boring for a blog. It is mostly the same feelings and questions over and over:

Was I right to want to join the working world so quickly and try to live up to other people's/ society's views of success? How do I define success? Is there any way out of the trap that means in order to make enough money to live, I must spend most of my waking hours at a desk? My goodness, being a part of the 9 to 5 world might make me want to start being a hippie and using phrases like "the capitalist machine" more than Macalester ever did.

When I am not asking those questions, I am wondering if I should have come here. I have always been the type of person to take an intense liking to almost every situation. I loved being in school for all the years I did it with few exceptions. I loved St. Paul. I didn't hate Farmington. I was IN LOVE with Ecuador. I've found positives and had an awesome time at a variety of jobs, including a 9 to 5 at a PEST CONTROL company. Bug Busters will always have a special place in my heart. In one month, I cannot say I have taken an intense liking to DC. I mostly can say that it is not a bad place to be, if you can ignore the astronomical rent, which, why would you ever do that? Really, I think the largest problem for me about DC is not DC, however. It is that it is not home. I love home so much, especially the fact that my family lives so close to each other, and even though I had an intense urge to fly away for a while after graduation, DC wasn't really on my list. I did not pick DC, I picked my job. My job is a whole different blog post. Here, I can say that all-in-all, I like my job and it is an incredible opportunity. But it is an unstable thing on which to hang the majority of your reason for being in a place. If something at work is going badly, it is hard not to wonder what would have happened if I'd stayed in St. Paul at a different entry level public health job and had actually been able to save money, to have a car, to drive that car to see my parents and grandparents and little baby cousins. But that is not to say that I'm not finding the fun and good in DC all the time and that maybe this crazy, swampy, strange north-south mix of a big city might not be growing on me, and this weekend is a prime example of all of the wonderful things about being in this place.

Friday: The moment we have all been waiting for (not waiting very long at all, it has been such a rush) at work, the first big commission meeting, is happening on TUESDAY. And a speaker just confirmed on Friday, so I ended up working overtime to get his travel figured out in addition to the normal meeting tasks. That means that  on Friday, I worked 9.5 hours, but I had big plans after work and there is no such thing as being too tired for salsa.

Nate, the genius who looks in the newspaper for events around the city, met me at work (in a tie!), and we walked the short distance (short distance!) to the National Gallery of Art, where they have a Friday night concert series in their sculpture garden. This week was a salsa band, and the place was packed. It was the perfect night to check out the reflecting pool, try to teach Nate to dance, and adore all the tiny (mostly Latino!) children around us. I couldn't work in a more perfect place for me- close to all the museums. I'm hoping to start checking out more of them soon.

The evening was perfect, except the transportation back to my apartment, which was going great until the driver announced "This bus does not go to Silver Spring" midway through my ride, even though the bus was definitely supposed to go to Silver Spring. I was kicked off at the Liberian Embassy and shown a new bus stop, where I waited a while for the bus that actually took me to my apartment. Apparently public transit hiccups are normal here, because whenever I tell stories like that one, everyone just says "Welcome to DC."

Saturday: On Saturday, my lovely roommate, Diana, and I decided that we just had to go shopping. I had bought some shoes I needed to exchange, I needed to go to the dry cleaners in preparation for the big meeting, and I wanted to look for more work clothes. On our way out, we stopped by our apartment building's Hawaii party, an event with blowup waterslides, sand, a DJ, and free nonalcoholic drinks. We grabbed pina coladas and leis and smiled at all the little kids. I feel like this could have been a hopping event for all the 20 somethings, too. Maybe it got to be that way later in the evening. We didn't stick around- we had shopping to do. All in all, we went to the dry cleaner, DSW, Marshalls, and New York and Company, and we were able to walk to each one. Living in downtown Silver Spring is the best. Now they just need a good thrift store.

Sunday: Today was a full day as well. Some Mac kids in DC had made plans to go to brunch, but before we did, Nate and I took a little trek to Scrap DC, the DC equivalent of Artscraps (Artscraps is better, St. Paul). For those not in the know, these are community organizations that do art programming. They also operate retail stores for reuse and recycling and an awful lot of brand new supplies. I went to get a bunch of scrapbook paper to use in some room decorating projects and spent wayyyy less than I would have at another craft store (and was able to buy one sheet at a time, rather than a whole book). Plus, the proceeds support the programming. I'll definitely be back, even if Artscraps will always be #1 in my heart.

Then, we headed to Busboys and Poets, a hip, social justice-y place near U street. (They have several other locations as well). The restaurant is inspired by Langston Hughes, once a "busboy poet," in DC, and features a Politics and Prose bookstore as well. With lots of vegan menu items and local sourcing, it is a Mac kid's dream. (Aside: I love this place, but it fills me with thoughts that the kind of liberal that it, and most Mac kids, embrace is kind of only for well-off people. What to make of this "bohemian" life?) My veggie burger was dry, but my lem-pom (pomegranate lemonade), was to die for, sweet potato fries, amazing, and a good time had by all. We celebrated the arrival of two friends, Jake's new roommate, Carson, and an about-to-be med student, Burt. A good time was had by all.

Getting back was not the easiest, as they were single-tracking (that means running trains going both directions on one track and it is very inconvenient, but hopefully the maintenance they were doing on the other track will keep the trains running on work days, when it really matters) at a lot of red line stations. But, I finally got back, grabbed most of the groceries I will need for the week, and collapsed with exhaustion.

I need to find a way to have all the adventure of this weekend and also all the energy. For now, I think the best course of action is sleep. Wish me luck on my big, big week! And give me a call sometime. I promise to play phone tag with you until we catch each other. (I'll try you again soon, Granny and Papa!)

Friday, July 3, 2015

My First Apartment!

Hi guys! I moved into my first apartment last weekend already! It feels like yesterday, though, I have been keeping so busy.

My fantastic parents came all the way out here (a very long drive) to help me get all settled in and to bring a whole bunch of my stuff (clothes, mostly) across the country. We kept busy this week, going to Ikea and Target, grocery shopping, craigslisting, setting things up. Craigslist is such a rush. That sounds silly but it is the only way I know how to explain it- it is really fun to be able to get exactly what you want for very little cash, to take things off of people's hands that they don't want anymore, and to be sustainable when choosing furniture or even pots and pans. It is like a win, win, win! Plus, winning equals being able to tell your craigslist story over and over, too. Like how I had picked out a queen size black brown Ikea Malm bed frame at the store in Bloomington, planning to buy it when I got here. I found one (partially assembled- perfect for transport) in exactly the color and size I wanted right here in Silver Spring! With a craigslisted bookcase, desk, and even some pots and pans, most of my stuff was cheap and it is all in amazing shape.

Living in an apartment is weird. Unlike many of my friends, I have never lived in an apartment before. I chose to stay in on campus housing all four years of college, and as much as I loved Macalester's residential life, my roommates, and living in Kirk for two years in a row (shoutout to the legend that was #Kirk924 and the amazing human that is Maya), dorm life is not anything like real life. Kirk had many advantages, including being able to roll out of bed ten minutes before class and still be on time because the walk to everything was so short, never having to cook for yourself because the meal plan was mandatory, and living with a whole bunch of your peers, even if you never talked to them. (It is kind of weird and apartment-like that way.) But it also had it's disadvantages, such as that it was old, I shared a bathroom with eight people of all genders, you had to walk downstairs, outside, and then downstairs again to do laundry, my room was tiny, the carpet was kind of suspicious, etc. So living in an apartment is weird for a lot of reasons. The size and newness and physical appearance in general here is weird. It is possible this place has all new carpeting. It is spacious- my room here is bigger than my room at home, and about the size of five of my Kirk rooms. It is gorgeous, recently renovated, all new faucets and a modern kitchen and all that jazz. It is also weird to look at your shower curtain and be like- that is mine, I bought it. I bought the dishes too. Even though I own nothing about this place (though I'm sure I'll pay enough to have owned it in Minnesota several times over soon enough), I feel a sense of ownership over this space like I haven't felt before. It is kind of empowering. It is also weird to live alone, but that won't be true for long. I will have an amazing roommate moving in soon.

I'm excited about the general living situation around here. Silver Spring is an amazing place- it has a bustling, but not crazy, downtown, with street performers, cool restaurants, some upscale and some affordable clothing stores, fro yo, and a fancy library, and it seems like people are out and about every night of the week. I can also walk to the metro in about 10 minutes and ride until I get just a block away from my work- or use it to access anywhere in DC. With its smaller-city charm but big city resources and lifestyle, I think Silver Spring will be perfect for me. (It actually isn't a city at all- it is a geographic area, but it is governed by the county. The east coast is strange, guys.)

Plus, if I don't want to leave the general apartment vicinity (even though downtown is super close), I have a gym and a lounge on the first floor of my building and a grocery store a block away. The gym offers free fitness classes (group fitness is the only way fitness really happens for me) three nights a week and weekends and is open 24 hours.

There is a lot more to write about, but I just remembered that I forgot to eat dinner. I do not have this whole adulthood thing down, yet. I'm probably not going to cook anything. But I will eat my sandwich or whatever on a plate, which I which I will wash by myself and put away, and then I will ridiculously congratulate myself. Because it is not a lie that I went from adulthood zero to sixty (no cooking, no rent, no worries to moving across the country by myself... with lots of help :P- bold moves) and I am so far doing AWESOME.