Thursday, August 23, 2012

It's been a long week, apparently

Oh, my ranting. It happens every few months or so. And now is one of those times. But you know, sometimes you just gotta get it out. And we all know that I'm not one to keep quiet. Please justify me in my irritations! And enjoy the instagram photos, which is what I do best these days.

So, I know that technically I don’t live in the “deep” south, but Virginia still gives off little hints of southern-ness. Take for example the fact that I live right off of “Jefferson Davis Highway,” just down the street from “Confederate Way.” So, I hear the oh-so-southern, “y’all” more frequently than I have ever have in my entire life. At first it was charming. Now it gets annoying. Especially in writing (I saw someone write it as "yawll" today. ugh!). It just bugs to hear it more than once a day.

Which leads me to my next point. I am a part of various social media groups that connect me to the goings-on in the groups that I am involved in i.e. church and military wives. Naturally they are all women. Nothing makes me feel more like I am in those southern ladies lunch group things that you see on “The Help” than hearing “hey ladies!” all the time. "Ladies" this and "dear ladies" that. I’m not a fan. Why can’t people say, “hey everybody,” or other alternatives? (excluding y’all, of course) It just gets old, and I don’t like it.

So, as you know, I have taken on the challenge of being a full-on commuter by working for a congressman. Obviously before this, the work I’ve been doing at the Archives is also in downtown D.C., but I choose the hours to work which is strategically planned to avoid rush hour. With this working gig, that is not an option. For the most part, I really do enjoy public transportation. I like not having to drive, and on trains I can read without getting carsick. But I had one of those nights last week where I was DONE. I stayed in the city after work to listen to some jazz with friends, and I took the metro home rather than the commuter train. What was supposed to be a 30 minute ride turned into TWO AND A HALF HOURS because of rail issues. It was ridiculous. I had that Elaine from Seinfeld moment where I am screaming inside of my head “MOVE!!!!!!!!!” I had thoughts of “I hate D.C.! I hate public transportation! I am ready to get the cuss out of this area!!” Yeah, it was bad. But I bet you would have felt the same way if all you wanted to do was be curled up in bed and instead you were stuck in a janky metro car.

But like I said, public transportation has its perks because I really do love the time to read. I have been reading books like a mad woman. In case you haven’t gathered, I love books. I was an English major, after all, and loving books is practically  the first requirement of being an English major. But I was thinking yesterday (due to an occurrence on facebook) about people who don’t like to read. It’s happened many times where I’m talking to someone and they’re all “no, I’m not a reader. I don’t like books.” It’s moments like this where I have to restrain myself from turning into the aunt on “My Big Fat Greek Wedding” (which was on tv this weekend which is why it’s fresh on my mind) and be all “WHAT DO YOU MEAN YOU NO LIKE THE BOOKS?!?!?!” Seriously, with how many genres of books there are, with how many shapes and sizes books come in, with how easy it is to have access to books, I have a big problem with people who don’t read. I won’t judge you or argue with you if you love high fantasy science fiction or any other obscure genre that I don’t like because, hey, at least you are reading. But I will judge you if you refuse to read. We can still be friends, but that’s just how it is. Because I genuinely feel sorry for people who refuse to read, because they are missing out on so much. Not to mention how many people don’t even know how to read and wish they could, or people that don’t have access to books for whatever reason. There is no excuse.

Just one more thing about books: I just experienced the joys of checking out a book from the Library of Congress for the first time this week. It was thrilling. But that’s besides the point. The Library of Congress is just a stone’s throw away from where I work, and every time I see it, I just think of how great of a place it is. So, when I’m giving tours, some people ask what that cool building is right by the Capitol building. I won’t hold it against them that they don’t know what building it is, because it’s their first time in D.C. But when I tell people and they’re all, “so what’s so important about the Library of Congress anyway?”, it grinds my gears. What’s a nice way of saying, “umm gee, I don’t know, it’s only the biggest library in the WORLD, and like 99% of all the books ever written are there, hellllloooooo!”(read “helllllooooo” in the voice of the guy from “A Knight’s Tale” for a better experience). Anyway, I’ll stop about the books.

Now I just have one more thing to get off my chest and then I will be done for now, I promise. You know how you always hear people say about their job, or their school group, or their sport’s team, etc., “oh, I just can’t stand the politics that are in said group.” Well, I’m trying to find a better way to say that I would not really be interested in a long term job with the federal government because I don’t like the politics of it all. Hello, most obvious statement of the century. Obviously when you work on Capitol Hill, it’s politics all over the place. And then I get home and turn on the tv, and it’s more politics. I don’t like it. For that reason, I would be hesitant to have a job in that field. It just gets tiring working in a job where no one is ever going to be satisfied, and by no one, I’m referring to the American people who I work with every day through letters, emails, and phone calls. But hey, if I’m trying to look on the bright side, at least I live in a country where people can express their opinions to their government without fear of getting shot.

As you can see, I’ve been really letting this stuff build up. And now I should be good for at least a month or so, let’s hope!

Monday, August 13, 2012

Why I Joined Twitter

After I nearly missed out on getting a free cupcake from Sprinkles in Georgetown because I didn't follow them on Twitter (apparently just having the Sprinkles app doesn't cut it anymore), I realized that something had to change. That couldn't happen again.

So I joined Twitter. I'm a Tweeter now.
free cupcakes with Megan, my coworker but firstly my friend

And now, not only does Sprinkles tell me what the free cupcake of the day is, but Georgetown Cupcake does as well. I haven't paid for a cupcake in weeks. So, in my mind, joining Twitter was worth it.

I also get my daily dose of funnies from Ellen, Conan, BYU Police Beat, and my all-time favorite, Ricky Gervais. I also found out before Victor who is Mitt's VP pick because I'm on Twitter...maybe also waking up earlier than him contributed to this. I guess the moral of the story is that Twitter is a pretty useful thing. I'm always late to the bandwagon.

Anyway, here are some of my favorite tweets from the past week.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

The 25-Year-Old Intern

Let me tell you some stuff about being a Congressional intern:

So I actually really like giving tours of the Capitol. I like seeing people’s enthusiasm about being here. I have been in D.C. for so long now, that the novelty has kind of worn off for me. To show people the Capitol, a building that is such a powerful image of America, is really fun, and a reminder that I live in a sweet place. I also like knowing that I’m giving them a way better tour than those ornery red-jacketed tour guides, because I can show them random things and places that the general tours don’t get to see, and give them passes to see the Senate and the House galleries. Also, I’ve always been a trivia nerd and so naturally I love being able to spew off all the facts I can think of about the Capitol and Congress and have it be received so enthusiastically. Want a tour during the month of August? Call me.

I have a love/hate relationship with the telephone. 75% of the time I am speaking with constituents who take an active interest in what is going on in their country. They know what is being voted on that day, and they know the proper way to voice their opinion to their representatives. These people inspire me (whether or not I agree with their opinions). I really am not taking full advantage of being an American citizen. The fact that we can directly call our government and voice our opinion on how they should be voting is a wonderful thing. We should all be more diligent in knowing what issues are being discussed and voted on: not just the ones you see on tv. There is a lot more going on in our government that should interest us besides healthcare.

But the other 25% of the time, I am speaking with riduclousness. This could be people who are so angry about something and yell at me about it, and then hang up. Did that really make you feel better? You didn’t even ask me to pass on your comments to your representative. Nothing is going to change, and you’re still going to be mad. Ridiculous. This could also be people who demand answers or demand things that shouldn’t even be handled by their congressman and then get angry when there’s not much I can do for them. Seriously, know the proper chain of authority before you be calling D.C. OR, it could be the real crazies. People who may not even be from the district I work for who call to say that Obama is a psychotic druggie, or that conservatives are from another planet who need to return home, blah blah blah. You get the idea. Sometimes these calls are amusing though, (like the conspiracy theorists), unless they’re mad at me; because obviously it must be my fault that Obama is a psychotic druggie--my bad. Ridiculous.

In the first two weeks of my internship, I was able to attend many lectures given in a Congressional Intern Lecture Series. Those were for the most part really interesting and I have been able to listen to some really interesting speakers: from the Secretary of the Smithsonian, the Attorney General during the Reagan Administration, a former U.S. Ambassador to Afghanistan, to the Chief White House Correspondent for NBC News. But I’ve realized when I attend the lectures that I am an OLD intern. Most of the people surrounding me were born in the 90s---I am not just guessing: when NBC news guy was talking he asked who doesn't remember the election of 1996. The majority of the room raised their hands. I actually do remember it. Maybe I’m being dramatic, but it still is SO weird to me that children of the 90s are now almost done with college. It makes me feel old.

Back to the “novelty” of working here: while there are parts of the Capitol that I had been to many times before as a tourist, it is pretty cool to be able to explore parts I had never seen before, and where tourists aren’t generally allowed. I get to walk around the building when there are no crowds of tourists in sight, and it’s pretty sweet. That building really is an incredible structure, and I love it. I love what it represents, and even though it’s filled with imperfect stubborn people who sometimes act like children and don’t agree, they are still fighting for the same cause: for the people of the country.
 And just as a couple of side notes, I now more fully understand why people become addicts of Diet Coke or other caffeinated deliciousness (my preference: Dr. Pepper): because the 3 o’clock hour is brutal sometimes, and naptime never sounded so good. And also, my commute may be longer than others who live closer, but I’m sure it is not nearly as pretty. I take the train, btw, and I have always loved train rides for whatever reason, and the fact that I am not sitting in my car stuck in the hell that is also known as the I-95 makes the extra time and cost worth it.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Books in 2012: Return and Report

Back in January, one of my New Year's resolutions was to read more books. I didn't do so good in 2011, so I'm proud to say that I'm doing much better this year. Most books were read on my kindle, which I never had done before. In 2011, I was still making a conscious effort to read actual books, but now I'm completely converted to the e-reader. So convenient---especially for traveling and commuting. My kindle and I have a great relationship.

Anyway, here are the books I have read the first half of 2012, including some of my "clippings" aka highlights that I made on my kindle: quotes that hopefully you'll enjoy and more ideally, will entice you to read some of these books.
The Infinite Atonement by Tad Callister: this is a carry-over from 2011. It took me a while to read. SO good though.

“Since God knows all things, the future is as real as the present.”

“If sacrifice is the highest manifestation of love, then the Atonement of Jesus Christ is the grandest demonstration of love this world has ever known.”

“The difference between man and God is significant, but it is one of degree, not kind. It is the difference between an acorn and an oak tree, a rosebud and a rose, a son and a father.”

The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
“but there would be punishment and pain, and there would be happiness too, because that is writing.”

Tim Gunn: A Guide to Quality, Taste and Style by Tim Gunn
“If the size 8 fits, but makes me look bigger, while the size 10 flows gracefully over my figure, actually making me appear smaller, which size should actually considered the “larger” size? Finally, if that number is truly so loathsome to you, cut the tag out with manicure scissors as soon as you get home."

The New York Regional Mormon Singles Halloween Dance: A Memoir by Elna Baker: I don't recommend this to everyone, some parts were amusing though.
“While Catholics usually paint the Savior suffering, Mormon artists tend to depict Him as a rugged Idaho mountain man--the kind of Jesus you wouldn’t mind dating. In this particular picture he was healing a blonde child, because blondes were big in Jerusalem in 33 A.D.

Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? by Mindy Kaling
“What I’ve noticed is that almost no one who was a big star in high school is also a big star later in life. For us overlooked kids, it’s so wonderfully fair.”

“The chorus of ‘Jack and Diane’ is: 'Oh yeah, life goes on, long after the thrill of living is gone.' Are you kidding me? The thrill of living was high school? Come on, Mr. Cougar Mellencamp. Get a life”

Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption by Laura Hillenbrand: I can't recommend this book enough: absolutely AMAZING.
“Only the laundry knew how scared I was.”

"Though all three men faced the same hardship, their differing perceptions of it appeared to be shaping their fates. Louie and Phil’s hope displaced their fear and inspired them to work toward their survival, and each success renewed their physical and emotional vigor. Mac’s resignation seemed to paralyze him, and the less he participated in their efforts to survive, the more he slipped.”

"The next day by divine intervention or the fickle humor of the tropics, the sky broke open and poured down. Twice more the water ran out, twice more, they prayed, and twice more the rain came. "

“The paradox of vengefulness is that it makes men dependent upon those who have harmed them, believing that their release from pain will come only when they make their tormentors suffer”

"When he thought of his history, what resonated with him now was not all that he had suffered but the divine love that he believed had intervened to save him. He was not the worthless, broken, forsaken man that the Bird [the prison guard] had striven to make of him. In a single, silent moment, his rage, his fear, his humiliation and helplessness, had fallen away. That morning, he believed, he was a new creation."

"At that moment, something shifted sweetly inside him. It was forgiveness, beautiful and effortless and complete. For Louie Zamperini, the war was over."

And the other books I have read so far this year:

Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, by Jonathan Safran Foer: the movie was better.

Handle with Care by Jodi Picoult: (not pictured) never reading a book by her again. Not my thang.

Lies that Chelsea Handler Told Me: pretty darn funny, but if you don’t like Chelsea Lately, then you prob shouldn’t read it

Cutting for Stone by Abraham Verghese: I don’t know why I didn’t mark any favorite passages in this book, because it was really good. Great writing and one of those stories that just sticks with you

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows. I won’t even tell you how long it took me to remember the name of this book. A delightful read.

Heaven is Here by Stephanie Nielson (nie nie): Loved this book. Really inspiring. A few editing errors though, which irritated me.

Book of a Thousand Days by Shannon Hale: really good.

Chains by Laurie Halse Anderson: a young adult book about a slave girl living in NYC during the Revolutionary War. I need to read the sequel

The Wednesday Wars by Gary D. Schmidt: I need to read the sequel

Gunn’s Golden Rules: Life’s Little Lessons to Making it Work by Tim Gunn: I LOVE TIM GUNN.

Once again, I am looking for suggestions for the last half of the year. As you can see, I am open to all types of genres (except sci-fi), so suggest away.

Happy reading!