An American Girl in Washington

The Palace gates are closing

Posted in All about moi by AGinDC on 28 December 2010

Last night I got the news I was expecting, but that hurt all the same.  The Lady of The Palace kicked me out.  She was cordial about it.  She said that she has a friend coming to live here, which is a lie of course, but it was nice of her to pretend and she gave me two months to get my life together and get the h out.  I’m a little devastated because I’ve come to love this place so much, because it changes all of my plans for the next few months, and just because my feelings are really hurt.  Of course, since I knew this was coming (one of the benefits of being a lone gypsy is that your intuition is pretty damn good), I cried about it last week and figured out how I would deal when it happened.  I always have an escape route planned.  I used to know exactly how long it would take me to pack everything I owned and throw it in my car, I was usually within ten minutes of my estimate.  So, when she told me last night at midnight before she left the next morning (she likes to deliver bad news at the last minute so there’s no time for awkwardness), I was shaken but okay.

Part of the reason that I expected this is that I was starting to feel safe and at home and that’s generally when my world gets shaken up.  The Powers That Be, whoever they are, don’t like it when I start to feel comfortable and I’ve never in my life been in one place for two long.  I moved six times in two years in Louisiana, four times in one summer in Cambodia, twice in a semester in South Africa.  That’s pretty much the way my life goes.  It keeps me on my feet, keeps my instincts honed, and ensures that there isn’t much I can’t survive.  I didn’t mind it so much when I was 21, but I’m three years to 30 now and I just want to settle down.  Maybe this time it’s a sign from the PTB that I need to start thinking about getting my life in order and buying a place that no one can kick me out of.

For now though, I’m super excited because two of my friends were looking for a third roommate anyways and I had already been thinking that if I had a job I would love to shack up with them.  Now I am, but I know I’ll have to take up a couple more part time jobs to do it.  Eh.  I’ve had to do that before.

Still, I can’t believe how lucky I am to have had six months of rent free living in an amazing house in DC.  I never would have been able to come here without this place, and in just the last four months I’ve put together an amazing group of friends and social contacts, I’ve started volunteering regularly at a place I love, have joined committees and networked my ass off and even scored a beginning-of-the-year meeting with the man who is in charge of doing what I want to do for the entire country.  It’s been a busy four months and I’m pretty proud of how well I’ve done.  I didn’t cave and just take any job that was lying around, I worked hard and sacrificed and even worked retail during the holidays so that I could find something that I really love to do, that will lead to a meaningful career and that won’t have me miserable for the rest of my pathetic life just because I got scared.  One good thing of having always been poor is that the threat of being broke isn’t really a threat.  And now I have two months to a deadline which was much more than she had to give me.  I went through the five stages of mourning last night and I’m finally at acceptance, and gratefulness, and excitement.  It was getting tiresome living all by myself in an empty mansion anyways, always having to watch my back and cover my steps so the two old, lonely women who run the place don’t get mad at me.  Plus, The Lady called me fat yesterday.  To tell you the truth, that was really the last straw.  I’d much rather make cupcakes for The Rev and Boat Shoes.  What an appropriate New Year’s gift.

And now I know that Ikea bag really was a way of telling me to get the hell out.

🙂

Have you had any New Year’s epiphanies?

AGinDC

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A Christmas (not) to remember

Posted in All about moi by AGinDC on 27 December 2010

This Christmas was like an Agatha Christie mystery described in a Far Side cartoon.  I found out at about 11pm on Christmas Eve that my friend Ferr was also staying in town for the holiday.  So we made plans to meet up the next day (now that he only lives a block away instead of all the way in Rockville this has become incredibly easy) and I went to bed, exhausted from my season of working retail during the holidays.

The next morning I woke up and started to make Jiffy blueberry muffins when I realized that I had no eggs.  The mix is still sitting in a covered bowl on the counter.  Instead, I made some chocolate chip and walnut cookies from a package of dough I had in the fridge, and I had that and tea for breakfast.  The Lady of The Palace (that’s what I call my landlady) was in town and I had picked out the absolutely perfect gift for her.  It was also the only gift I bought for anyone this year.  She loved it.  After she left for the morning, I sat down at the kitchen table and there was a pile of three prettily wrapped packages and a card with my name spelled wrong.  I thought it was odd that she wouldn’t have said something when I gave her my present, and I wasn’t sure if the gifts were for me.  I mean, who else could they be for, right?  But why didn’t she say anything?  I half opened the two smallest packages and then taped them back up again and called my mom.

“Mom!  A Christmas mystery!”

After hearing the facts, she deduced that the gifts were obviously for me and hung up, possibly disgusted with her daughter’s density.  I opened the presents and the first was a little two dollar peppermint shaped candle.  The next was a little picture frame from the Pottery Barn.  And the third… well, the third was really weird.  It was an Ikea shopping bag!

No.  Really.

I was so confused!  I mean, the Lady of The Palace is usually totally awesome but this was just weird.  Anyways, I decided to just be grateful for the only Christmas presents that I was going to get, and I refolded the wrapping paper (she saves it) and wrote her a thank you note.

Eventually, Ferr came over and we popped in what I hoped would be the first of a few films in my Elizabeth Taylor Christmas marathon.  We ordered Chinese (God bless the Chinese, btw) and started watching Giant.  After we realized that this may be the longest Texas saga in history, we paused it and picked up some wine from the only liquor store that was open, a marvelous little Chinese joint down the street.

Plenty of wine and cookies and Chinese and several hours of Giant gone by and we realized that it was almost time for the Kennedy Center 6pm Millennium Stage show.  I had read that every year on Christmas they do a jazz jam session and I thought, what the heck?  I’ll go.  So, Ferr and I got all gussied up and headed down.

This was easily the saddest event in history.  I absolutely adore the Ken Cen and love their M Stage shows, but God was this depressing.  There were at least one hundred people, probably more, all milling around the hallway like they were waiting in an airport.  With the elevator music (no offense to the Ken Cen or the musicians but this was live Muzak if I’d ever heard it) and the cash bar and the sad faces, this was like a meeting of the lonely hearts club.  A bunch of people with nothing else to do than go to a free show on Christmas with the hopes of not being alone.  Ferr said it best when he said it felt like the waiting room for hell.

Five minutes and we were done.  If I hadn’t been with Ferr, I would have jumped into the Potomac after three.

We cabbed it back to Kalorama and hopped down to the same liquor store.  We bought another bottle of wine and fixings for martinis and ordered Mexican from Super Tacos and Bakery on Columbia.  Then we went back to The Palace and finished the Liz Taylor saga (yes, still the first movie).  Giant finally ended and we turned on The Fantastic Mr. Fox to clear our heads.

After the film, Ferr went home and that was the end of one of the weirdest, funniest, most ridiculous Christmases ever.  I was actually a little happy to go back to work the next day.  Until all of my friends showed off the gorgeous jewelry that their boyfriends got them.  Then the full patheticness of my Yule set in.  But after a while I realized that it could have been worse.  I could have gone through all of that without a good friend suffering with me.

Three days til 2011!  You doing anything special?

AGinDC

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A Single Girl’s Christmas

Posted in All about moi by AGinDC on 22 December 2010

This Christmas I’ll be sitting alone in my room in at The Palace, drinking Three Buck Chuck, eating pizza and watching sad movies.  It’s not so bad.  At least I won’t be working.

Local Department Store has been crazy the last few days.  I guess this is to be expected, but never having worked at a large department store during the holidays, I really didn’t know what I was in for.  One thing that’s surprised me is just how unhappy people seem to be around the holidays.  There are very few people who are buying gifts because they want to.  Most are buying things because they have to.  This is especially true of the men, who will often pick the first thing I point out without giving it a second glance, as if as long as it’s jewelry and within their budget, the girl will just have to be happy with it.  On the one hand, this is incredibly depressing.  I have never been a big fan of Christmas for a lot of reasons (children of divorce usually feel a certain way about the holidays) but this year I’ve realized that I would rather not get a gift at all than get it from someone who is giving it begrudgingly.

On the other hand.

Part of me is constantly jealous of all of the girls who are getting gifts from someone this year.  Even the men who would rather be watching SportsCenter reruns are buying something (and a piece of jewelry at that) for a girl because they care about her.  Or they don’t want to get divorced.  And then there are guys like Captain (so called because he shares a name with a certain dreamy Star Trek icon).  Captain is very cute, in my favourite preppy grad school well-mannered young man kind of way.  He also has a girlfriend who he clearly loves, because he spent two long days at LDS looking at every single piece of jewelry in every single case until he found the perfect gift for her.  I have never seen someone so dedicated to finding something enchanting for the girl he loves, and the necklace he finally picked out was absolutely beautiful.  I was so jealous I could have died.  It’s hard enough helping all of these people pick out the perfect gift for someone when you know you’re not getting anything from anyone, it’s even harder when a wonderful guy your age is picking something wonderful for his probably wonderful girlfriend.

Bah Humbug.

The year that began with so much promise for me is ending in shame and failure and I know that has a lot to do with why I’m so angry at the world right now.  I’m scared, broke, jobless, and alone and every time I talk to my mother on the phone she cries because I’m not coming home for Christmas.  I have great friends but they have their own lives and in the end I always have to face the world alone.  And mostly I’m fine.  But now that I’m a grown-up, I understand all of those sad ass Christmas songs about why being alone during the holidays sucks.  This year, I’m drinking my way through the Yuletide.  Maybe by the 26th I’ll have forgotten that this season even happened at all.

Hope you’re having a better Christmas than I am!

AGinDC

Retail is hell. Especially at Christmas.

Posted in All about moi, Just another day in DC by AGinDC on 16 December 2010

Working at Local Department Store is getting crazy.  We’re open all day and all night and I’ve even been getting up at 5am to get to work.  It’s ridiculous, I know.  But, to America’s credit, no one ever shows up until hours after we start.  Along with the crazy hours, the gaggle of women with whom I work, normally quite friendly and wonderful (mostly), are getting tired and… testy.  Good times.  But we’re getting in a lot of absolutely gorgeous jewelry and I have my eye on a blue topaz necklace and rose gold flower ring that may be mine soon, even if I have to find some illegal activities to fund them.

Besides the hard work, other aspects of my life have been fantastic.  On the job front, I finally scored a meeting with my Voter Protection idol!  Woohoo!  I’m meeting him the first week in January, which means I have a shit ton of books to read before then.  I’m terrified, but my goal is to get him to let me volunteer for him until the day when he sees that I’m brilliant and indispensable and hires me.  Fingers crossed.

Finally, my cousin came to visit me this week!  This was very exciting for me, since I’ve been waiting my whole life for my cousins to get old enough to actually  be real people and come visit me and drink and be awesome.  KC (as my friends started calling him, since he’s from Kansas City) has turned out to be a smart, charming, hilarious, and pretty-good looking guy.  We had a blast and I’m really hoping he can come back this summer.  I managed to pack his three days here with plenty of activities in the hopes of looking cool.  On Monday night I threw him a happy hour party at Bar Dupont, where a bunch of my friends graced us with their presence and we enjoyed $5 cocktails from 4-6, after which we pretty much stopped drinking.  No, not really, but we should have.  Then, we went to dinner at the new Cuba Libre which was absolutely delicious.  The mojitos were amazing and I don’t remember what I ate but I know it was yummy.  Afterwards, a bunch of us came back to The Palace as usual, and we finished off a few (5) bottles of wine and cracked up til dawn.

On Tuesday we had lunch at Ben’s Chili Bowl, KC’s only request, and then I went off to work and he stayed busy taking a tour of the Capitol, the Library of Congress, and who knows what else.  We met up around dinner time and dined on the tamales that our aunt from Arizona sent us. Tamales, Coronas, and Spanish rice.  Delicious.

Wednesday we spent doing more touristy stuff.  SCOTUS, the African Art Museum at the Smithsonian, lunch at the Senate, and goodness knows what else.  Then we met up with The Rev and a wonderful and charming new friend (new to me, not to The Rev) who I have come to adore.  We’ll call him Boat Shoes.  Because that’s his name.  After Duccini’s pizza and copious amounts of wine and Natty Light (and celebratory cupcakes) while watching the He-Man Christmas Special (thanks Rev), we said goodnight and the next morning, KC bad farewell to The District.  I miss him already.

Hard work, networking, family and friends.  I guess it hasn’t been such a bad few weeks after all.

How are you spending the run-up to the holidays?

AGinDC

American Nutcracker

Posted in Just another day in DC by AGinDC on 9 December 2010

Tonight my handsome (he finally wore a suit!) and amazing friend The Rev took me to the Washington Ballet’s production of The Nutcracker.  Like most little girls, I have always been in love with the Nutcracker, I watched the VHS of Michael Barishnokov’s performance as the Prince from July to December and danced myself silly pretending to be the Sugar Plum Fairy.

One of my favourite things about the Nutcracker is the way each regional ballet company makes the show their own.  In Seattle, the Pacific Northwest Ballet’s set is designed by Maurice Sendak to incredible effect.  In Washington DC, of course, Setpime Weber (the company Artistic Director, and what a cutie he is) has adapted the show as an American retrospective, complete with rats as Redcoats, good soldiers as Revolutionaries and a Nutcracker who looks suspiciously like George Washington.  There are also plenty of dancing Native Americans and a gorgeous cherry blossom set.

The set design and costumes of this show were absolutely incredible, worth seeing themselves.  And the dancing was, while not technically perfect, full of joy and spirit, the absolute epitome of a company of dancers absolutely thrilled to be putting on this perfect play.  There were also about half a million children, each of them gorgeous and happy and absolutely thrilled to be part of this production.  I couldn’t help but imagine my future little girl one day playing the part of Betsy Ross (yes, even she had a cameo).  The show was full of the joy of Christmas, the pride of being a Washingtonian and an American, and the wonder of childhood.  Even with the shoddy sound system (no live orchestra here, I’m sure you saw the Express cover about that this morning) and the amateur crowd (which I expect and love at this and only this ballet), everything about this gorgeous production was joy and light and the first thing I’ve done this year that really made me feel like Christmas (no, working late at Local Department Store does not count).

I am so thrilled to be in this beautiful city for the holidays.  The lights and the sounds and the sales (yaay!) are one of a kind and my incredible friends make it all the more special.  I may not be able to see my family this Christmas but I have a family here and a city that I love and nothing could be better.  From my gorgeous friend who may be having a baby soon (another yaay!) to the Rev., who always buys me drinks because I’m poor and he has a job and we’re both alcoholic lawyers, even with the terrible day I had today I’m going to bed with a smile on my face.  I guess that’s a sign that I’m in the right place, at the right time.

Happy Holidays everyone,

AGinDC

Politics and The Park

Posted in All about moi, Cocktails, again by AGinDC on 5 December 2010

Friday was quite the busy day for me. During the day I went to a career fair for Democrats in politics but on my the awesome group Democratic Gain.  The fair was full of panels, workshops and one-on-one discussions with political professionals and it was so valuable.  Not only did I get a lot of really good advice from really smart people, I bonded with a lot of people about our newfound love of daytime television.  Although I do find it slightly insulting that the CW’s afternoon slot consists of Good Times, Sanford and Son, The Jeffersons, Everybody Hates Chris and Meet the Browns.  Apparently they’re the channel for unemployed black folks, the older of whom fall asleep somewhere around 3pm.

The one thing that helps me stave off feelings of complete unworthiness is meeting other people who are also unemployed.  Being around a bunch of jobless politicos was a huge self-esteem booster as we were reminded once again that a) we’re Democrats after the midterms, so God help us, and b) nobody hires during the holidays anyways.  I’m okay with being on the dole as long as I’m not the only one.  Misery and company and all of that.

While lunching in the delicious (and not too expensive) NEA cafeteria I met nice-looking young man who invited me to a party his fraternity was having at The Park that night.  I have been dying to go to The Park since I got here, since apparently it is the bastion of party-loving young professionals of a certain persuasion, so I was only too happy to call my friend at work, convince her to come along, and then spend my weeks’ grocery money on the ticket . It was worth it.

Unlike most clubs in DC, The Park is full of people who actually know how to dress and act.  Call me bougie if you will but I prefer young men in suits rather than sagging pants, young women in clothes that fit, and people who know how to have a good time without being vulgar and treating every woman like they’re in a brothel.  The Park fit that to a T.  I had a blast, met a couple of great people and thoroughly enjoyed being surrounded by a lot of incredibly good-looking men for the first time since I was mentally flirting with every Marine and Secret Service agent at the White House.

Good times.

I’m feeling pretty positive about life at the moment, even if I do only have $6 in my bank account.  The giant care package full of food that I got from my grandmother probably helps.  And the fact that I have an amazing friend who just started his new job this week (yaay!) and who brought over a ton of groceries to the house under the pretense of “fixing breakfast”.  I haven’t had eggs, bacon, or brie in weeks and now I have all three and a lot more thanks to him.  Being poor together has bonded us for life.  That and the terror that is law school.

Now I’m off to do a full day’s worth of networking emails.  Have a great Sunday!

AGinDC

A lecture at Brookings

Posted in Just another day in DC by AGinDC on 2 December 2010

On Tuesday I attended a lecture and panel discussion at the Brookings Institute about e-Rulemaking.  I know, geek alert.  But it was actually really interesting.  I’m really into Open Gov and citizen engagement and such so I was totally psyched to go.  Plus, one of the keynote speakers is a friend of my professor and is doing amazing work in a field I want to go into so I was excited to get to meet him.  Buuuut, the most exciting thing about lectures at Brookings is the snacks!  Never has a free event had such yummy pastries and Starbucks coffee.  I was in heaven.  In fact, I’ve been reluctant to get up early enough for these Brookings lectures in the past (they have tons of them), even though it’s right by my house, but now that I know what goodies await, I’m totally showing up.

One of my favourite things about DC is how many amazing intellectually stimulating things there are to do around town.  Lectures at art museums, panel discussions with heads of agencies, governors, senators, and leading intellectuals, free shows at the Kennedy Center, really cheap happy hours.  There are always a million things to do and at least half of them will better your life in some way instead of just killing brain cells.  Fun as that is.  Now that I’ve discovered the joy of Brookings, I’ll be going more often.  And I’ll have to keep looking around, who knows what awesome events I’ll find?

Have a great weekend!

AGinDC

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