Drinking the Kool-Aid

"Wow, you've really been drinking the Kool-Aid..."

That's what Floyd told me last night after I spent 30 minutes defending my boss's stance and efforts on the Iraq War and other issues. I now realize how insulated I am within my office and I can only imagine how hard my colleagues have to work to insulate our boss from attacks while ensuring that he is always informed. It's a tightrope walk, a delicate dance. There will always be folks that denounce every proposal that the Member puts forth. At the same time, there will always be folks that will commend every action and view regardless of how stale-groundbreaking, wonderful-horrible it is. You have to learn to always be mindful of the traditional line taken by both your detractors and supporters.

It's amazing how partisan the Hill is. I know that it is very silly for me to be saying that—of course, the Hill is partisan! I've always been a proud liberal Democrat but I find myself even more aligned with my party and further to the left as a result of my work on the Hill. Yes, I've studied group polarization and this is that psych concept in action.

So, I'm drinking the Kool-Aid. I've poured over our statements, listened to our rehearsed responses, and processed response letters in my boss's voice. Thankfully, my views aligned beautifully with my boss's before I arrived so there is no risk of me being brainwashed. Yet, for as long as I'm around, I will defend my boss because I believe that he and all of my coworkers (in positions of power) are mindful of the big picture and are truly committed to the interests of all Americans, young and old. Yes, I'm drinking the Kool-Aid but the Kool-Aid is good.


Next goal: Working in the White House?

I'm really excited about the job prospects for 2009. Last night, I attended a talk about the road to the White House for staffers. It was very interesting to hear about the speaker's own journey, and I loved that concrete steps and tips were shared. Once Obama gets sworn into office, I plan on putting my name out there for consideration (though, as I learned, my name has to be out there now). It would be an amazing honor to work for him even as a lowly staffer--definitely something to add to my resume and tell my kids.

But that brings me back to what I've been reminded at every event I've attended on the Hill: the importance of relationships. I've been working hard to plant seeds and make my presence on the Hill known. But I have so much further to go--so much further to go even in my own office. I've been in my office for 3 months now and I still don't know all of our staff. That has to change. I have all of August (yay, no interns!!) to get to know more staffers and share campaigning opportunities and Hill climbing strategies with my small circle of Hill allies.

It is so amazing to be on the Hill but the pressure is building to get myself positioned and to make the most out of my "short" time here. The key indicator is a feeling of ease. I feel comfortable in my position right now and as I learned at my last job, that is dangerous. During the first weeks of August, I plan on wiping out backlog tasks so that the next time the CoS asks if I need more to do, I will proudly say yes. Then, I'll be able to take on more, diverse tasks that will improve my skills and prove my value to the office.

I'll be sure to give you an update on my progress near the end of August. I know that there are at least a dozen lunches, fro-yo breaks, and informal pass-bys that need to be accomplished in the few weeks. It is intimidating to reach out to others (especially senior staff) but I know that it will be hard to move up on/off the Hill without those contacts.



One of the cardinal rules everyone learns is to not date/hookup with anyone that you work with or live with/near. I successfully avoided the cute boys that lived on my floor in college (not that there were many) and the cute boys that I’ve worked with.

But I’m being tested again, and I fear I might fail. I’m a sucker for accents and proximity. My cute Frenchman roomie has both. He’s already been in two of my dreams, and they were so real that I actually woke up seriously worried about how I would face him. Don’t worry. Our interactions in the dreamworld have been entirely PG, but I can only imagine how things might escalate in la-la-land and in reality. Just add beer and as Chatty Chica always says, alcohol + cute boys = fun/trouble.

I know what the problem is. It’s summertime, an extended spring fever. I will do my best to stay sane but dreams of an impossible rendezvous make it hard.

Speaking of an impossible rendezvous, I want to note that I wouldn’t have minded a rendezvous with my old classmate. Maybe, it’s just the whole rock star-groupie thing, but I was seriously aware of my “come-hither” body language while we were chatting. Yes, I know Celestyn! It is shocking and weird for me to say that, but I liked his vibe. Plus, it’s been a while.

Tilly and the Wall

I went to the Black Cat last night to see Tilly and the Wall. It was a good concert, and actually a very good day.

I went to school with one of the band members and it was nice to chat with him and our other classmate (who also lives in DC). It was a mini-reunion of sorts that made me smile, though it mainly reminded of how quickly time flies. It was weird to see him after nine years. My recollection of him in high school was of quiet, straight-laced though odd guy. I can still see his high school mannerisms now but he seems older and more mature somehow and assumingly, to be having an awesome time.

The band was solid. Their sound and performance was a bit odd but I liked it. It was an eclectic mix of styles ranging from 60s/80s melodic pop to today’s alt-punk---with a bit of country/folk thrown in. Hmm…I don’t think that even makes sense. The key is that they had a lot of energy, and I loved the two lead vocalists. Of course, I was also amazed by the stamina of the tap dancer who kept the beat and the crowd pumped throughout the show. I really want a pair of purple sequinced wrist cuffs.

The openers were Exit Clov and The Ruby Suns. I really liked the sound of The Ruby Suns. They were all over the place but it was a fun ride.

A special thanks to my friend’s boyfriend for providing earplugs. The show was good but loud. I'm getting way to old to not be concerned about hearing loss. Good call, D.

One more thing. Guess what is coming up at the Black Cat!

Sun Aug 31- DJ Dredd Presents: PRINCE vs MICHAEL JACKSON vs MADONNA w/ live visuals

Oh, my! I am so there!


Screen on the Green: The Candidate

I ended up going to Screen on the Green last night. I had planned on going to sleep early but I grew restless around 7. I always say what's the use of having principles if you don't live by them. In the case of my "say yes whenever possible to social outings" rule, it was time to practice what I preach. So I grabbed a bus down to the Mall and met up with a former coworker and two of her friends.

Last night's showing was of The Candidate. I had seen the movie before, in high school, but it was nice to see it again—especially in light of this crazy election year. It is amazing how many of the themes, perspectives and issues that arise in the movie are still applicable today and to this year's presidential election (e.g., race, age, international conflict, the environment, the economy, and energy). It was a great, fun movie with good performances.

Aside from the few annoying bugs, late arrivers/early leavers, and this huge dog that was sitting near us and keep inching closer and closer to our space, it was a good experience. I always seem to forget how beautiful this city is at dusk and at night. Seeing The Candidate with the Capitol in the background was amazing and drew home the fact that I'm in an amazing city—full of selfless idealists who are fighting to make the world better, edgy wonks who are doing a great job of deciphering/muddling up the debate, and evil-doers/ambitious pricks that are only after glory, money and fame. I'm in the first camp, though my idealism wanes. I plan on fleeing this city before my dreams of a paradigm shift are totally crushed by the stark reality of the man, the machine, and money.


Meridian Hill/Malcolm X Park

The one thing I truly love about my new place is its proximity to Malcolm X/Meridian Hill Park. MHP rocks.

This morning, when I was packing my bag for a day at the Mall, it dawned on me that I didn’t have to go all the way downtown to sit, read and write under a tree. I could walk a few blocks to MHP. So that’s what I did.

I spent just an hour or two in the park, watching the ultimate Frisbee game and listening to a few locals drum and sing songs that reminded me of the little Buena Vista Social Club that I've heard. It was great. It was peaceful. It was beautiful. It was still cool out and a light breeze was constant. I sat under a clustering of trees and wrote, read, drew, and mainly just enjoyed the late Sunday morning. I plan on sitting in the Park every Sunday—as long as the weather cooperates. I still need to go in the afternoon to see the drum circle—perhaps next weekend. I’ve always loved being outside and sitting under trees and given my house’s issue with the deck, I think that it will be my new backyard.

Speaking of yards, I’ve decided that I will try to fix-up the front yard. It just needs a bit of sweeping and maybe a plant or too but it is a great front area for passing the evening. I sense that my neighborhood used to be a place where everyone hung out on the front stoop in the evenings and I hope that I can get that started again. It helps to create a sense of community and lets folks know that I am here. I just need to check with my housemates, resolve the critter problem, and then, I’m all set to start my new project (yay, I have a new project!). When I’m done, I plan on setting up my folding chair on the front stoop after dinner. All I’ll need is a 40 and maybe a small radio to keep me company until it catches on and I have a few neighbors and passersby to greet and eye.


Saturday Blahs

I'm in one of the weirdest of moods right now. I think it relates to things finally settling. I've achieved most of what I set out to achieve this year so that now there is nothing to consume me—in the way that the job hunt, apt hunt, and Peace Corps app did during the beginning of this year. I still have my Spanish class to fill some of my time, and I guess I could (and should) always revisit my writing. But, it's weird to have all this free time now and lack of pressure to achieve the next big thing.

Work has been killing me lately. It's just me in the outgoing mail department and I have yet to truly tame our interns. I've gotten off to an unfortunately slow start this month. But that will all change starting this week. I've gotten my head around it all, I think, and I'm ready to re-conquer my position.

And yet, I still ask what's the next big thing? I thank A-M for reminding me that I should be having fun right now. She's right. I want and need to have a little diversion (no, not the sort of last summer). I don't yet know what form it will take but as of today, my door (and window) is open for whatever life brings my way.


Bush Administration Tries to Redefine Contraception as Abortion

As an addendum to my last post: This is what I'm worried about. McCain will only continue this sort of ludicrousness desired by moral conservatives. Don't get me started on fiscal conservatives.

Bush Administration Tries to Redefine Contraception as Abortion

Obama-rama fuels my soul

Last night, I attended an alumni event at which I was reminded how much is at stake in the upcoming election. In response to an attendee's comment that she was undecided between McCain and Obama, it was asked,

Who do you want to pick the next Supreme Court Justice(s)? Stevens and Ginsburg are getting older, and the Court wields amazing power to determine so many issues, including equality, reproductive rights, etc. Vote with that in mind.

I, for one, plan on working hard this fall to get more people behind Obama. This election is too critical for folks to not take the outcome seriously. Our country is facing many hardships and we need to move in a "new direction" to revitalize the spirit and image of our nation.

I am frightened by the thought of having 4 to 8 years of rule under McCain. I guess he can't be so much worse than misguided-Bush and evil-Cheney. But I refuse to be idle while folks stay on the fence or while angry Clinton supporters switch to McCain. I supported and voted for Clinton but I'm not stupid enough to turn my disappointment into support for McCain. He's not right for America and regardless of his service and extensive experience (hey, he's an old man, of course he has experience) he does not speak for my values, my views, and my hopes and dreams. Obama does.

Obama has the support of so many young, minority folks like me—and of course the support of the many others who came up before us. As my mother said, my grandparents and great-grandparents are rejoicing. Their struggle and the struggle of so many have come to the fruition of the Dream, as embodied in Obama's ascension and in this moment. It's a lot of pressure for any man and any administration, and I pray that he'll be smart and surround himself advisors and friends who will help him deliver.


Avoiding a Roomie Rift

I like to avoid drama like the plague. There is just no use for it in my life. But five roomies apparently has to result in at least a little drama and I'm not having it. No fears, it isn't major drama just a little passive aggressiveness on everyone's part. I think we are all too nice to have a major blow-out.

Yet, this weekend I was confronted by two roomies. First about my unpacked boxes (fine, you have point. I need to finish unpacking. but wtf, I just moved in AND provided lots of stuff to make the house better). The second issue is about the back deck, which is more-or-less off-limits because under the lease it belongs to the girl who lives in the back room. That works for me but I just wished that I had known about it ahead of time so that I wasn't perceived as an inconsiderate chick who didn't abide by the rules. This evening, I plan on moving my outdoor stuff to the front stoop and the basement to avoid any future problems.

I like my house and my housemates but I can see how certain riffs can be created if I don't play by the rules. Six roomies means that the house has a delicate balance. I can be the indifferent sort but I don't care to live in a house full of drama until '09. I'm not gonna rock the boat...not just yet.


What’s in a name?

Yes, another posting about names.

I watched the Tyra Show during my lunch break today. It was all about how people judge others based on their name. The show was quite inciting, and reminded me of how racist this country continues to be.

The show reminded me of a study that was conducted awhile back in which duplicate resumes were submitted to different firms—one with a "white-sounding" name and one with "black-sounding" name. The results were that the "white-sounding" named resume got call-backs more often.

In the case of my own name, I have a more "white-sounding" name than my sister. I wonder if she was judged differently based on her name. I love my name but it doesn't reflect my background. My first name is English, my middle name is French and my last name is Spanish. Yet, I am African-American.

I anticipate naming my children Cora Francis and Anthony [unsure of middle name]---derived from the names of my great grandparents and my father. These names were not choosen to reflect a nationality, but in honor of my ancestors. I hope that by the time my children grow up, they won't have to face such stereotypes based on something they have no control over.

It's a sad but true fact that our lives are governed by stereotypes and other quick-clues based on past experience and (mis)information. But we should always fight those stereotypes and remember how hurtful they are when directed at ourselves.


Public Libraries Rule!

I have mixed feelings about my new neighborhood library, the Mt. Pleasant Branch of the DC Public Library System. It's not as expansive as the suburban library I've enjoyed during the past 3 years, nor could it ever compare to my alma mater's collection. The Mt. Pleasant Library's collection of books, periodicals and audiovisual materials pales to the relative abundance at my old library.

Yet, I used to complain about selection at my old library. Now, I will truly miss it—especially the high school reading list books and the foreign language DVDs. I guess I should check out the Petworth and Shaw libraries to see if their collections are better. Otherwise, I'll be making the trek every Saturday/Sunday to access MLK's more extensive collection—playing special care to avoid the homeless people and everyone else who seem to hang out there.


I feel like a dragon


My second Spanish class starts this weekend, and I am so nervous. I don't feel prepared, and I fear that the teacher will demand that I enroll in the lower level class that I just finished. I really need to improve my conversation skills. I posted another Craigslist ad for a language exchange partner, and I hope that the sessions I have lined up for Thursday and this weekend will get me ready.

Last night, I discovered Destinos on PBS! It was the novella that my university used to help students learn Spanish. I plan on watching it every night—as additional practice. I love my normal novellas (e.g., Fuego en la Sangre), but sometimes the actors speak too fast for me. Destinos is intended for learners so that the actors speak slowly and the vocabulary is generally basic.

Shared House Update!

Casualty of shared living: I haven't been seriously ill for many months. But now, I have a sore throat that won't go away. My throat is on fire and I feel like a dragon. I blame my new roomies, because two of them had sore throats last week. I forgot how illness spreads within a household. I remember exchanging countless colds with my college roomies and Floyd. Living alone sheltered me from other people's germs. Now, I've return to the land of illness exchange. Eeek!

We eat together: Our house is having another group dinner tonight. It seems like it is a regular occurrence in the house, which is making me quite nervous about what I will make when it is my turn. I suppose that it would be fitting to cook Southern food but I'm too lazy to slave over a hot stove making fried chicken, greens, mac & cheese, and cornbread. Mmm…that sounds really good. Maybe I will splurge and make some southern comfort food for my roomies--though really for myself.


Sunday, Sunday

I am so tired but happy about the way the past week turned out. I’m slowly getting settled into my new place and have already had a few nights on the town with friends to celebrate my return to NW.

Last night, I checked out the Rock and Roll Hotel. It was definitely not what I imagined (i.e., it's not a hotel) but it was a lot of fun—despite the dj’s amateur song transitions.

The Fourth was spectacular. My job really provides perks and it was great to participate in the celebration of our country in the Capitol.

There are a few things that I’ll need to adjust to in my new place. Of course, I’ll have to get used to having a place that is inhabited by 5 other people. But mostly, after 5 years of being eco and budget conscious, I’ll have to get used to having air conditioning and cable. I hope I don’t get too spoiled before PC—as it know that I will most likely be sent to a tropical place to live in a small hut with no ventilation and definitely no tv or cable.

Indeed, my thoughts are fragmented right now. Mainly, I just wanted post something after the holiday hiatus. Tomorrow my friend from school leaves (my mother already returned home) and I can finally spend quality time getting to know my roomies and neighborhood and unpacking more of my things.


Workday Update

All is well in my world. I hope to get more unpacking done during the long weekend and mentally prepare myself for being the sole Outgoing Mail Staff Asst until someone else is hired. I am quite concerned about the backlog in the interim but I'm sure that once the new person is on board, we'll be on track. It will be odd to be the veteran on my two-person team. I've only been here for 2 months, but I guess I've figured it all out by now. Or rather, I hope that I have.

My pal from back home arrives tonight. I've lived in DC for 9 years and this is the first time that a buddy (besides Floyd) has visited me. It's actually pretty sad, but whatever, I'm so happy that someone is coming to visit. Originally, we were supposed to take a road trip to Maine to visit friends. But my job's slow vacation accrue rate nixed that plan. So now, my friend will visit me on her way to visit others.

I look forward to taking her and my mother to the Hill to see the fireworks tomorrow and then having a girls' night out in Adams Morgan on Saturday. I'm pretty sure that my roomies will be up for joining us in a pre-game, so it should be a fun weekend.

I took my mother to Busboys and Poets last night. She really liked it and I'm glad that she got to experience another part of DC—as her visits normally center around trips to Foggy Bottom, the Mall, and the 'burbs. As always, B&P's food was on the mark (yummy veggie pesto lasagna!).

Yay, only 2 more hours and I can go home--or rather to a happy hour. Our office can leave at 3 today, due to the holiday and recess. I know that things will be crazy again next week, so I will relish the few extra hours away from work.

Happy Fourth of July to everyone! Please don't drink & drive or drink & start shooting guns/fireworks!


Last move ever!

Dear me. Every part of my body hurts right now and I have at least one bruise or cut to match every box, container, suitcase, etc that I moved or shipped yesterday. I don't want to move ever again or rather, I don't want to move that much stuff ever again. It's amazing how much stuff a person can amass over a few years. A good amount went to Goodwill but the rest went to the new house. Luckily, the house's second living room/den was unfurnished. My stuff now allows for a great second area for gathering with friends.

The IKEA Clause
I used Starving Students to move my stuff. I've used them once before and have never had a problem. But Monday, I got a call at 630 AM alerting me that the movers would be there at 730-8. I jumped up and had the quickest shower and breakfast with my mom. Then, we waited. And waited. The movers finally showed up at 4 PM. It was a waste of time, but only partly. I used the time to clean up my apartment and get a few boxes picked-up by UPS.

So, my desk's hutch broke and given that SS has an IKEA clause, I don't get any cash for the damage. But it's true. IKEA furniture isn't made that well. It fits my budget but it isn't real, sturdy wood. Hopefully, one day, I'll be able to afford real furniture that didn't come from IKEA or Target.

My mother is in town and she was a great help during my move. I also want to give a shout-out to G.F.A. and A-M who were super-duper helpful during my unsuccessful garage sale and in packing up my kitchen. I owe them a night of sipping frosty beers (or maybe just some horrible rum and popsicles) on my back deck as soon as I'm settled. Thanks to everyone who wished me well during my move and helped me pack (and offered/were drafted to help me unpack).

First night in a strange, new space
I already love my new room, and I think that once I get used to living with 5 other people, I will have a blast in the house and in the 'hood. Last night sorta felt like the first day of college when my mother moved me into my dorm. Like back then, my mother and I crammed several car loads of stuff into my room. Like then, my mother pulled off in her car at 10 PM—leaving me to face my roommie-strangers and my new living situation. I hope that I can unpack sooner rather than later and then start identifying NOW things that I can trash, donate, recycle. I've learned my lesson and I refuse to have as much stress and hassle during pre-Peace Corps move asI had to deal with during this move.