Holiday Trip Out West

I'm headed to the airport now for my big holiday road trip with Floyd. Somehow, I got through this crazy week at work and am finally able to stop worrying about work stuff (unless I get a frantic email from my boss/coworkers...).

The highlight of the week was definitely the holiday lunch which gave me a chance to connect with some folks I rarely interact with. During the lunch, we had a holiday gift exchange, the first ever at which I didn't get shafted (Sure, white elephants are fun but I'm always the unlucky one).

I'm very excited about my trip with Floyd. It should be one of my most memorable road trips ever, and it will provide us with yet another chance to connect before the inevitable, final split. I will try my best to report on my adventures, but I won't make any promises.

For those interested, we are leaving from Texas on Sunday for the Grand Canyon. Then, we will spend a few days in Las Vegas before heading to San Diego. A day trip to Mexico so that I can practice my Spanish is also planned. Awesome, right?

So until my next blog, happy holidays and happy new year! Be safe!


Hot Ticket

My boss gave us the best holiday gift imaginable. No, not a raise or a week off. We were promised inauguration ceremony ticket(s)!

This is huge. We've been waiting for weeks to find out if we'd get tickets--especially given how historic this year's ceremony is. Everybody wants to be there.

I was hopeful but honestly doubtful that any tickets would be given to staff--especially low level staff like myself--after all the office's VIPs had been taken care of. But I was wrong.

This is excellent news for Floyd. I'm giving him my ticket(s) and all I really want in exchange is some QT while he's in town.

So excited! January really is shaping up well.


Work-Life Update

I'm feeling a bit blah again today. So, I'm just going to do a quick update on my work and life.

My anxiety about my next career move is growing, as is the tension between my officemate and me. If she tells me one more time that she has nothing to do, I will scream...

I haven't quite figured out the proper path up the Hill, and I've received a mix of encouraging and not-so encouraging news from mentors and friends. During the holidays, I plan on reworking the language of my cover letter and résumé so that I can be ready to network and apply full-force when I return in January.

The main bright spot at work is my role as an inauguration volunteer. I have a feeling that I'll be placed outside, far away from the ceremony (please, no rain!!). But it will be awesome to be a part of that amazing event.

Over the weekend, I finally finished my Spanish class and Christmas shopping. I'm really excited about the children's books I bought for my growing (in the womb) niece. I got three Dr. Seuss books and "Good Night Moon." Of course, for financial and environmental reasons, I prefer library books, but I made an exception for her 0th Christmas gift. As soon as she's born, she'll be getting used books and college money from me. Hmmm…. I guess I'm going to be a serious aunt—focused on her education instead of getting her the latest outfit/toy. I'll leave that to everyone else.

I am really looking forward to my road trip with Floyd. It will give me a much needed reprieve from the stress of the Hill and the hustle of DC. Floyd and I laughed about how much our trip has snowballed over the past month. It started out as a short visit to see him in San Diego, and now it's become a multiple destination road trip. I guess we miss each other.


The Real Reason

I've discovered the real reason why I decided to brush off my winter 2009 departure as a Peace Corps Volunteer. It isn't because of the glorious victory of the Obama Administration or the wonderful gains scored by Congressional Democrats (yay, new job opportunities!). It isn't because my sister's baby, my mother's first grandchild, is due in March. Nor, because I can't bare to be away from yet another annoyingly cold winter in DC.
No, it is entirely due to the fact that my 10th year high school reunion is slated for 2009.
Yesterday, I got an email from our senior class president about the reunion. I can't wait for to go back and reconnect with the folks that I've lost touch with. Of course, I want to see what has happened to my frienemies, the popular chicks, and the nerds. But, mainly I want to hug, laugh and toast with my old lunch bunch--the original lunch bunch of my high school years. We haven't been all together since freshman year of college and it will be amazing to see how far we've all come.
The reunion will probably be in the fall, which gives me less than 10 months to get my act together! I need the right look, the right attitude, and the right resume/CV to wow my friends and foes alike. I was a total dork in high school and I want to show everyone how much I've changed (and haven't changed) during the past 10 years. It will be a celebration of my roots and my growth since the days when I was that awkward girl who religiously sharpened her number two pencils before each and every class, had a long-term crush on the varsity soccer star, and regularly requested hugs from the friend who always responded with a "sure, hon."

 Wow, that brings me back. I can't wait.


On-hold: Peace Corps & Spanish

My last Spanish class is this Saturday. I'm so glad that it is almost over as it's been such a stressful, time-suck.

I started the classes back in March in order to meet the language requirement of my Peace Corps nomination. At first, I really enjoyed the challenge of the classes and the idea that I was working toward something—an eventual two-year stint in a Latin American country. But my interest and level of effort has waned in the last two months. First, I decided to postpone my Peace Corps dreams in order to see what sort of opportunities I can find on the Hill or within the Obama Administration in 2009. I don't yet feel ready to leave DC as I sense that there is still much more for me to learn professionally. Added to that, my current teacher is very disorganized, and I feel so out of place in my current class of assertive, advanced speakers.

Although the classes were an investment that I wouldn't make again, I am happy that I took them. I am disappointed that I haven't achieved the intermediate/advanced intermediate level that the classes should have prepared me for. Yet, I'm much better at grammar and speaking than I was back in the spring.  I can read most Spanish newspapers, but I only rarely follow Spanish telenovelas without the subtitles. I still lack ease in comprehension and confidence in speaking, but I am sure that given more time and real immersion (as a PCV!), I would improve.

I hope to continue watching shows and movies in Spanish and picking up El Pregonero for light-reading on the metro, but my big push to learn Spanish is over. I want to resume some of the things I put aside back in March in order to make time for Spanish. Things like working on my novel, volunteering regularly, and reading. They are the things that will make me happy and relaxed. So farewell, Spanish. I'll try again in a few years, but for now, I need a break.


Networking is making friends

That's what hit home today after a chat with a networking guru I know.

I've talked several times on this blog about networking--mainly lamenting my lack of skill and of ease in networking.

But on the Hill, networking is essential for success. Whether you are trying to get a bill passed or move up within your area of expertise, you have to know people.

It sounds so simple but to me networking has always been this other realm, separate from the social, the real me. And that was the problem. I took it too seriously and I wasn't myself. The moment that you see it as an opportunity to get something out of someone is the moment that it brings displeasure.

Networking should be fun, because making friends is fun.

So from now-on, I'm banishing "networking" from my vocabulary. I don't want to network but make friends on the Hill. And through cultivating those friendships, I will learn more about the Hill, D.C., and myself.


My shared house is a black hole

My belongings, kept in the shared space, keep disappearing. And I'm getting fed up.

I showed up in my 6 person house with lots of stuff. I found a place for most of my items in my room and the assigned shelving/space.

Then, it started happening. About a month after my move, things started to disappear. First, it was my can opener and fan. Then, it was the chair I use to sit on the front porch. Then, my awesome 8-year old "they don't make 'em like they used to" shopping cart went AWOL. Now it's my cookie cooling racks. The list goes on.

It would be fine if people we using my things for a short bit before returning them. Well, let me be honest: I don't do sharing. Yes, I'm in a shared house but I like the idea of my stuff being available for my use when I want and need it. That's why the disappearing act pisses me off so much.

But the kicker is that no one knows where any of my things are. That's just bull. I'm sending an S.O.S. to my roomies tomorrow about my prized possession, my shopping cart (you try lugging a huge bag of soil home and see if you miss the cart). I think that our old roomie might have taken it and I am determined to restore it (and everything else) to it's proper place before the end of the year.

I guess shared living is finally getting to me. I don't like sharing a bathroom with two guys and a kitchen with five, busy people. I don't want to pay to move again so I can only hope to out-stay the roomies that annoy me the most (at this point, 4 out of the 5 and the 5th has been on assignment since August).

Little Black Dress

There are two things my closet desperately needs: a little black dress and a great pair of jeans. I have no idea how I have survived this long without either. On Black Friday, I fought the crowds at Pentagon City in hopes of finally filling that void.

I had planned on arriving at the Mall early, encouraged by the news that the Metro would be open at 4 AM. Yet, I overslept---too much turkey, beer and gaming the night before. I arrived at the Mall around 4:30 PM. It was packed.

I felt a bit overwhelmed trying to dodge the hordes of shoppers. After hours of surveying the racks and trying on dozens of dresses and jeans, I left the Mall empty-handed but determined to extend my search one more day.

I headed to Georgetown early Saturday morning and hit the jackpot. A special thanks to the friendly saleslady, who was clearly working on commission. She pulled me aside before I was able to escape the store and convinced me to let her find the conservative, little black dress that I'd been looking for.

My new dress is lovely. It has an empire waist and sheer top. I think that it is classic and versatile—though more fitting for professional than cocktail events. But it fits! After trying on so many dresses that accentuated my problem spots or lack of curves, it was refreshing to find a dress that was tailored yet forgiving. I should be able to wear this dress for years, (assuming that I don't get fat! Step away from the pumpkin pie…). It turns out that the dress was 25% off---as was everything else in the store. That made the expense a bit easier to bear.

So, I finally own a dress that makes me feel like a grown woman. I just need to work on the rest of my wardrobe and finally rid myself of all my old college and gasp, high school clothes that are making me look like an awkward, immature 20 year old.