Holiday Plans

I am so relieved right now. I've been under lots of stress during the past week or so trying to figure out my Turkey Day and Christmas-New Year's plans.

For Turkey Day, I'll be here—hanging out with friends, checking out a museum or two, and venturing out on Black Friday to find the perfect little black dress.

At the end of December, I'm headed out West. Floyd and I are driving from Texas to California, stopping at Las Vegas, the Grand Canyon, and Mexico on the way. It should be an amazing time.

It's a little weird that I'm not going home for the holidays this year. Sure, I only go home once a year--but it's always for Christmas. So I asked my mother for her permission and blessing for my trip out West. I hope that she is not too disappointed with my no-show given that I'll be home in March for my sister's delivery.

As Floyd reminded me, DC is my home. I'm 27 and no longer obligated by finances or lack of friends to go to Atlanta every holiday. And at this point in my life (as my mother always reminds me), I'm young and independent---free to explore and travel as much as possible. Yet, I can't help but feel a little guilty for choosing a flashy, romantic getaway with my ex over a quiet holiday with my family and ATL friends.

At any rate, I hope everyone has a wonderful Thanksgiving. Be safe and eat as much as possible!


Bonus Faux-Pas

I disclosed my end-of-the-year bonus to my coworkers. It was a mistake.

I was handed an envelope by a coworker who jokingly said that it was my bonus/raise for the year. I disbelievingly opened the letter.

What joy! It was a lovely bonus of a size I didn't expect. In disbelief, I disclosed the amount to my coworkers and handed it over to my coworker to double-check that it was real. One of my coworkers was happy for me and excited about the day when her own bonus would arrive—she's new. My other coworker was a bit upset that he hadn't received a bonus yet and had never heard of such a bonus amount.

I thought that our generation was more open with their finances. But I guess that it isn't true when it comes to people that you work with and who do a similar job—and probably think that they do more or just as much as you do.

But whatever. I know that I've worked hard during the past 8 months that I've been on the Hill. It's good to know that my efforts have  been recognized and rewarded.

This bonus is awesome. It doesn't elevate my Hill salary to what I used to make as an assistant in the nonprofit world. But it will be put  to good use (Las Vegas, here I come!).


Store Closings?

A friend emailed me this list of retailers that informed the SEC of closing plans between October 2008 and January 2009. I hope that it's entirely bogus; regardless, I’m sure that the worst is still to come.

  • Ann Taylor 117 stores nationwide are to be shuttered
  • Bombay closing remaining stores
  • Cache will close all stores
  • Circuit City stores... most recent (? how many)
  • Dillard's to close some stores
  • Disney closing 98 stores and will close more after January
  • Eddie Bauer to close stores 27 stores and more after January
  • Ethan Allen closing down 12 stores
  • Footlocker closing 140 stores more to close after January
  • GAP closing 85 stores
  • Home Depot closing 15 stores 1 in NJ (New Brunswick)
  • J. Jill closing all stores
  • JC Penney closing a number of stores after January
  • K B Toys closing 356 stores
  • Lane Bryant,, Fashion Bug ,and Catherine's to close 150 store nationwide
  • Levitz closing down remaining stores
  • Linens and Things closing all stores
  • Loews to close down some stores
  • Macys to close 9 stores after January
  • Movie Galley Closing all stores
  • Pacific Sunware closing stores
  • Pep Boys Closing 33 stores
  • Piercing Pagoda closing all stores
  • Sharper Image closing down all stores
  • Sprint/Nextel closing 133 stores
  • Talbots closing down all stores
  • Whitehall closing all stores
  • Wickes Furniture closing down
  • Wilson Leather closing down all stores
  • Zales closing down 82 stores and 105 after January

Is this list for real?! Partly, for real?! Either way, it's unbelievable!

There will be some great deals this holiday season—but there will also be so many folks who will lose their jobs in the retail industry. To be safe, try to use any old gift cards or credit slips for "troubled" stores ASAP. These days, you never know which retailers will be closing stores near you or closing for good.


Freshman Week

I love to watch the new Members. They are all so nice and happy. That is a stark difference from some of the veterans on the Hill who have bravely weathered re-election, scandal and/or legislative disappointments only to become mean and aloof.

This week, I watched new members meeting and greeting and wandering down the halls to check out soon-to-be vacated offices. Their arrival signals the wave of change and opportunity that the 111th Congress and 2009 will bring on the Hill and in DC. I'm keeping my eyes open to see which new Members get which committee assignments--as that will partly influence where I apply.

I'm thinking that my next move should be to a committee where I can actually (finally) work on legislation. But if given the opportunity, I wouldn't mind working for a freshman rank and file Member. They'd be less established and thereby, more open to new ideas and more grateful for insider, really any, help. Plus, it would be very cool to help shape the beginning of a Member's legacy and operation in Congress.


Leading me on

Floyd and I are at an interesting place. We've started communicating regularly and openly. And even started to plan for the immediate future.

It is a bit silly, our relationship. Of course our feelings remain strong--revived by recent time together. But we don't live in the same city and don't plan on crossing paths anytime soon.

So, as Floyd asked last night, "are we leading each other on?" I guess if it's mutual disillusionment, it isn't so bad.

And there doesn't seem to be a solution. We're both willing to forgo a bit of crazed singlehood for the false security that our relationship brings.

I know that when it is all finally over, as it will be in 2 years (my new deadline), I'll curse myself for letting an unfulfilled (marriageless) relationship go on for so long.

For now, it feels right. And that's all I can ever hope for.


Networking: Needs Improvement

I went to a work party tonight and totally bombed. I did all the things you aren't supposed to do when networking, including:

1) Staying with the group of friends with whom I came instead of using them as a base from which to work the room.

2) Avoiding openers about the party or current events from which I could engage a stranger in further conversation.

I don't know what got into me. I always whine that I need more opportunities to meet and greet the movers and shakers and there I was recoiling in my characteristic shyness. Unfortunately, that gets you nowhere on the Hill.

The nail in the coffin was when someone I thought knew me started to explain an inside joke. I didn't think it was polite to correct him but I felt awkward at having him explain something I already knew. But he's a big wig and I tend to clam-up in their presence. Is it a failing of me (my personality) or a failing of my sex to have such a tendency for passivity?

I don't think I can afford to figure it out. I need help ASAP as the prime networking season is upon us. Next week, Members return and newly elected Members will be scouting staff. Time to call-in my career mentors for a pep talk.


The Washington Monument

Somehow, I convinced myself to get out of bed yesterday in order to enjoy the holiday. By 9:15 AM, I was on the 52 bus, headed down 14th Street toward the Washington Monument. It was a beautiful morning in D.C., though quite cold and breezy.

It is absurd to think that I hadn't been to the top of the Washington Monument until yesterday. During the past 9 years, I’ve taken so many trips to the Monument and National Mall, but it never really dawned on me that I should take the time to go up. I guess I got discouraged by swarming tourists and lines.

I remember when the Monument went under wraps for renovations (DC’s salute to safe sex!). I also remember how upset folks were when they finally took down the scaffolding and refused to set it up elsewhere as a fine example of engineering and design.

I easily got a ticket for the 10 AM tour. I’ve heard that folks start lining up at 7 AM to get tickets during the summer, so I was very glad I decided to avoid such madness by going in the late Fall and on a holiday. I spent some time in the gift shop warming up before paying a visit to my favorite tree. Eventually, it was 10 AM, time for the tour.

The views from the top of the Washington Monument are amazing. At 550+ feet up in the air, you can see for miles and miles—the changing leaves in VA and MD and the buildings and landmarks throughout the city. The view of the Capitol was breathtaking, as was the view of the sparkling waters of the Potomac.

The six observation windows are rather small and the snotty kids and foreign tourists had a tendency of taking their time at each. Honestly, no one wanted to move! I can understand but there is no need to inhabit a window for 10 minutes. I plan to visit the monument again on a bleak, frosty morning in December to see DC at its starkest. Hopefully, there will be even less tourists around then.

On the way down, the elevator slowed down to allow us to view some of the beautiful commemorative stones on the inside of the Monument. It was interesting to see the change in the marble from within the structure.

Overall, it was a great and worthwhile trip.


Sick, again

I spent most of the weekend trying to rid my body of a nasty cold. It all started with basic fatigue last Sunday when I arrived back in D.C., but over the course of the week it matured from horrid, dragon-throat symptoms to sinus mayhem over the weekend. Despite the fact that I devoted my entire weekend to fluids, veggies, and bedrest, I'm still struggling to overcome it.

I seem to have gotten it while campaigning or once I returned home to a bathroom that I share with two grown men who don't value handwashing. Either way, it really sucks to be sick again.

Thankfully, I have tomorrow off from work. I may venture down to the Mall for a day of touristy fun. But most likely, I'll spend the day in bed cursing my weak immune system and all my germy friends and foes.


The Hottest Ticket in Town

I think I need to find a cave and hide for the next 75 days.

Yesterday, I got my first request for inauguration tickets, and I imagine that other folks are going to come out of the woodworks, assuming that I have a special connection to the ticket stashes.

I don't.

I'm just hoping that I can get into January's festivities—the swearing-in ceremony, parade, official inaugural balls, State of the Union address, etc.

Here's my recommendation for those interested in watching the ceremony. Call your U.S. senators and/or Joint Congressional Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies. A website for the Presidential Inaugural Committee should be up soon too. Also, this WPost article is a good primer.

As for the balls, most state societies have official balls. Numerous organizations and entities will also host unofficial celebratory parties and events. Keep your eyes open.

The good thing is that there will be a lot of festivities happening all over the city—some exclusive, some not. So no matter what, you'll be able to toast to our new president and to a new day in America.



What a madhouse on U street and I hear that the area around the White House is the same. I'd imagine that in cities across our nation, young and old are rejoicing in the streets.

I spent the night working and chilling at the DCCC/DSCC event. It was a great night made even more momentous by Obama's win. Like so many, I shed a tear for all the sacrifices and hopes of those who came before. I called my mom and Floyd before hugging my friends and toasting.

I paid an impromptu visit to U street after my bus was forced to detour. How surreal, exciting, and amazing to have so much spirit in the streets after midnight on a Tuesday.

Finally, home now and in my bed. I can't wait to hear all the analyses tomorrow and also hear a preview of what the new Congress has in store. For the record, the Congressman I campaigned for won his reelection bid.

All is well.


Vote! Vote! Vote!

What an exciting day! I woke up earlier than normal this morning just thinking about the importance of Election Day. Today, Americans will vote and decide the future direction of our nation.

Obama has my vote. I hope and pray that he wins. When he does, tonight will truly be an unbelievable occasion for celebration.

I can't wait for the House and Senate to take more seats. With D-domination, we'll be able to push for so many important reforms to ensure that EVERY American has an opportunity to achieve their dreams.

I wish everyone a great election day and a quick and easy experience at the polls. Go Vote! Go get out the Vote!


Waving Can Cause Carpal Tunnel

I'm back in D.C. after a week on the campaign trail. I had an awesome, though very tiring time. I learned a lot and got to work with some awesome people. I am so glad that I had the opportunity to be involved. I hope that the Congressman wins because he's a down-to-earth guy who truly cares about his district.

During my week on the trail, I spent most of my time phone banking and doing visibility at early voting locations. In fact I did so much visibility—which means waving, handing out literature, and holding signs—that my right arm and shoulder began to ache by mid-week. I really developed my waving technique, which I'd say is an exaggerated beauty pageant wave with cuter "bye-bye" breaks. Just ask me the next time you see me, and I'll show you how it's done.

There were some interesting dynamics at the campaign office. Of course, everyone was stressed and tired. I can understand how they felt as after only one week of volunteering, my entire body is exhausted and sore. Also, at this point, I never want to call, smile, make small talk or shake hands with anyone ever again. I loved "being on" with the voters but it can get old very fast.

Some of my most memorable moments occurred when I got to call elderly folks, accompany the Congressman to a few sites, wave wildly on the side of the road, and walk a parade route 6 times (?!) in a quintessential American small town. Of course, the food and the company couldn't be beat.

Now, my attention turns to Election Day. I finally mailed off my Maryland absentee voter ballot, and I am looking forward to ushering-in a new era in US politics tomorrow.