As of April 1, my attention shifts to my new priorities: Spanish lessons and getting ready to move to a new apartment. This means that I won’t be dedicating as much time to seeking Hill employment. I will continue to cultivate the relationships that I have already established and continue to apply to positions that are particularly promising, but I won’t devote as much time to the undertaking. I’ve given it a good shot and I'm proud of myself. I still have my fingers crossed for a "big break, ” but my attention must turn to the other things I want to accomplish this year.
My Spanish classes start next week. I don’t feel prepared, but I am excited to have more structure in my lessons and more conversation practice.
I’m not looking forward to the apartment search, at all. I know that it will be a pain, but hopefully, it'll work out okay.
Here’s to another good month.
I got a second chance yesterday to prove that I'd be perfect for the hill. A few of Floyd's friends vouched for me regarding another LA position, and I got a call yesterday morning for an interview that afternoon.
Many thanks to the pep talk from Floyd last Friday. It went something like this:
"So many people are vouching for you and opening doors for you. Don't f&^% up. Last week, you let your nerves and unnecessary shyness, sabotage the interview—which would translate to you choking in other high-pressure situations on the Hill. You have to be 'on' all the time."
Floyd is right. Last week, I worked myself into a frenzy about the interview. I was a nervous-wreck and acted shy and insecure. It went okay but I know that I could've done better.
I made sure to bring out my true self yesterday and I think I nailed the interview. The Chief of Staff was understandably concerned about my lack of district ties and lack of Hill experience, but I think that I was effective in easing his concerns and letting him know that I will work hard and shine.
So now the wait begins. I will continue to apply to more jobs as nothing is certain. One issue that was raised during both the preliminary phone and in-person interview was if I was able to give a two-year commitment. If I get the job and it works out (i.e., I like it and they like me), it would really change a lot of things. 2009 should be a good year with lots of movement on the Hill. Even though it might reflect badly to rescind or defer the Peace Corps for two years, I would be able to enter as a PCV will no regrets and having had more time to perfect my Spanish. I really don't want to be a PCV at 30, but more than that, I don't want to be an entry level hill staffer at 30. The Hill is on my to-do list and if I'm given the opportunity to have a longer, more meaningful experience as a LA (rather than a short experience as a SA--which I was willing to do), then I will properly explain the situation to my Recruiter and take the longer term opportunity.
But we'll see. It's still quite possible that I'll be at my current job until next winter. It just feels so good to have my networking and other efforts start to pay off. And I sincerely hope that I'll be given a chance on the Hill.
This little light of mine, I'm gonna let it shine.
This little light of mine, I'm gonna let it shine,
This little light of mine, I'm gonna let it shine,
Let it shine, let it shine, let it shine.
It was a good weekend—highlighted by lots of tasks and a special trip to Habana Village. I just love that place and I love salsa dancing. I can still remember when I first salsa danced in high school. A friend taught me the basic steps in the bathroom before we headed out to the dance floor. So, Saturday was a good night. I ate fried yucca and drank mojitos and danced my heart out. Of course, Shimmy-Shimmy is an old-pro but the other two GLOGs were novices. I'm somewhere in the middle.
An unexpected highlight of the weekend was the return of the Complete Jane Austen series. I almost forgot about last night's showing of Emma with Kate Beckinsale. Emma isn't my favorite Austen book, though it is quite good. Like with Northanger Abbey, I get easily vexed by the transgressions and assumptions of the main character. The production was good, though I did grow tired of the random fantasy and dream sequences that felt more suited for Northanger Abbey. The portrayals were solid, but I felt that the adaptation could have been more fleshed out for clarity. But, alas, there are always time limitations.
I look forward to watching the last production of the series, Sense and Sensibility, this Sunday. Perhaps, it won't be as lovely as the 1995 Hollywood version, but it should provide another interpretation of Austen's views on love, character, and situation.
I've had a hectic week, but Thursday was a whirlwind day. Notably, I was given the clearest demonstration of the way the job search works on the Hill. Here's what happened:
Wednesday: A friend of Floyd's dropped off my resume and cover letter with his old office. I got a call that evening from the chief of staff. It was for a position that I believe was posted on Monday or hasn't been posted yet.
Thursday: In the morning, I returned the call and was invited to interview that afternoon. Needless to say, I freaked out because a) I didn't feel prepared and b) I wasn't wearing a suit.
Thankfully, Floyd, Floyd's friend, a coworker and Organica took the time to prep me beforehand. I can't really tell if I did well enough be a shoe-in for the job. In fact, all I can really think about is what I didn't say. But, I did my best given the circumstances and I think I was able to get across my enthusiasm.
We'll see if I get the job. If nothing else, the experience reminded me how rusty I am regarding job interviews. I'll definitely start thinking about my interview answers this weekend so that I'll be prepared for any other impromptu interviews (keep your fingers crossed!).
It's rather cool that I can now say that I've experienced the inside track for a Hill interview. I am unbelievably thankful for all the help I've been given throughout this process and hopeful that given enough time and perseverance, I will finally be able to experience life as a Hill staffer.
Listening to excerpts of Obama's speech and participating in a diversity-themed lunch at work has really made me think about race. It's not as if race isn't something that I think about on a regular basis, but gender is something that I'm more frequently confronted with (just getting ready in the morning reminds me of my gender).
Like many African Americans, I wasn't shocked by Rev. Wright's words. They were something that I've heard before and that I acknowledge and accept as a part of the sentiment shared by many individuals in the African American community. I can't wholly share the views because unlike my mother and grandmother, I haven't been regularly discriminated against, called profane words, or belittled to non-existence. Yet, I am a part of that history and a mere generation from the way American was (and in many ways, just under the surface, still is).
I grew up in the SE suburbs of Atlanta, Georgia. I won't got into Atlanta's history but it will suffice to say that Atlanta has a history of de jure and de facto segregation. To remedy this and help equalize educational opportunities for children living on the North (White) and South (Black) side of the county, my county instituted a voluntary integration/busing program. It wasn't without its critics and it has since ended, but it was one of the most influential experiences of my life. As you can imagine, this program created racial conflicts and I can still remember discussions with classmates on their right to revere and bear the Confederate flag vs. Malcolm X-MLK for reasons of "familial/ethnic pride" on their hats, t-shirts and car bumpers. So back then, I was reminded of my race more than I was reminded of my gender. In fact, I was often forced to be the "token" tasked with challenging all the stereotypes about my people. Confounding all that, I was a n oreo. But I don't want to go into that here.
My experiences aren't unique. Yet, I wanted to share them to underscore how silly it is to not acknowledge that race is still a significant part of America's history and many American's daily existence. I think it's naive to think that all the wounds have been healed. I know that through each generation's strides for equality and integration, some of the fissures and wounds can be healed. But it will take a while before things are idyllic.
So, when Rev. Wright speaks, I stand with him in acknowledgement of the past and when Obama speaks, I stand with him in acknowledgement of what we all hope for our future.
Late Saturday night, I was walking home from a solid St. Patty's Day party. It was so good that the po-po came. At around 2 am, I was standing at a major intersection waiting to cross the street. The area was pretty deserted as last call hadn't yet emptied the nearby bars.
Normally, I would jaywalk, but a car was approaching and its speed made me think that it was either a drunk or lost driver. I didn't want to take any chances so I waited for the car to pass. The car slowed down and veered toward where I was standing. I looked down into the car, assuming the person was indeed lost. But no, this middle age White man starts pumping his fist in a most obscene hand gesture. After staring in shock for a few seconds, I recovered and yelled a few explicatives in response. He drove away and I continued to walk (much quicker) home.
Floyd said that my 'hood used to be a hotspot for prostitutes--sorta like the Marvin Center first/second floor bathroom used to be a hotspot for cruising. But, wtf, I was not wearing prostitute garb. I was wearing the most unflattering outfit--baggy pants and a shapeless coat. Just because a person is standing at an intersection waiting to cross the street doesn't mean that s/he is a sex worker looking to get paid. I felt sorry for the dude and hoped that he made his way to K Street--just blocks from the White House--where I know he'd be able to get his fill.
Otherwise, I had a great, full weekend. I did just about everything on my to-do list (minus all the important things like laundry and Hill apps). I went to the National Mall on Saturday and was crestfallen to realize that the tourist season has resumed in D.C. I still haven't gone to the Washington Monument, and I fear that the best time for touring D.C. is now over. Instead of huddling in my apartment during the past few months, I should have braved the cold temperatures and ventured to all the D.C. sites. Oh well. There is still a little time before the mad-rush of the Cherry Blossom Festival.
Today is my two-year anniversary at work. I can't believe that another year has passed. Now that I've made it to this arbitrary milestone that I've set for myself, I am "free" to pursue other professional avenues (i.e., the Hill). The problem is will I be granted that Hill position before,
a) I go crazy at my current job. It isn't horrible but the sense of having my professional growth stifled pervades;
b) I'm shipped off to the Peace Corps; or
c) I give up and move back home.
My supervisor is organizing a celebratory lunch for Friday to mark my anniversary. I was obviously and unfortunately less than delighted by the proposal--what a difference a year makes! It's just that I should have had my "next step" in line by today, but I don't. Damn it, I don't.
I've always believed that things happen for a reason--the whole closed door/open window viewpoint. So, I'm hoping that when it comes to a Hill position, a delay or even unfulfillment of my Hill aspirations will still result in fulfillment and peace of mind. If nothing else, I've usurped Floyd's Hill network and learned a bit more about my own ambition and skills.
Last night, I realized how much I'm not over my ex. Not only that, I realized how much I don't want to be over my ex.
Over the past few months, I've increasingly relied on Floyd for support and diversion. When I started my Peace Corps application and started applying to the Hill, he was the first person I called for advice and insight. He's been a true friend—despite all that has passed—during the past few months, especially in connecting me with his friends on the Hill.
I'll admit that I'm the clingy type and all this interaction isn't good for me. At times, I wholly forget about our prior issues and assume that things are on the mend. But they aren't. Our connection now is merely an afterimage or testament to what we had for seven years and not an indication of what we may have in the future. The sooner I realize that, the sooner I can leave Floyd in peace, mend my own heart, and allow us to both move on and find our "true love(s)." Unfortunately, I don't want to accept the finality just yet. I still need and trust his perspective and presence.
As soon as one of us enters the dating scene, the spell will be broken. I suppose that it's already been broken on Floyd's side as a result of my ill-advised dealings with Mr. Rebound. But the spell hasn't been entirely broken for me, and it will be a sad day when it is. Yet, how shattered will the connection really be? Does one ever really get over their first love?
I got a physical today. I'm quite sure that the doctor didn't do everything listed in the Peace Corps medical packet, but I'm not worried because I'll be back in two weeks for a follow-up visit.
The doctor wants to temporarily put me on some asthma medications to see if my minor wheezing can be alleviated. I had asthma when I was a child and I guess, I have chronic problems with wheezing and shortness of breath. It mainly affects me when exercising in cold weather and during the allergy season (when I'm already dealing with irritation and the excess mucus associated with irritation), but I've learned to deal with it.
I'm not happy that I'll have to take two types of asthma medication during the next two weeks (and possibly longer). I just stopped taking BC to avoid manipulating my hormones, among other reasons. But now, I'm attacking my lungs with chemicals.
I haven't had a physical since I before I left for college so who knows what conditions will be unearthed. I know that my weight and blood pressure are fine, but how will my cholesterol levels fair? I'll find out in 2 weeks, when (hopefully) my medical packet will be completed and I'm given a doctor's "O.K." to serve.
Every year, I tell myself that I'm going to check out a few screenings of the D.C. Environmental Film Festival. Screenings happen all over the city--near my office, near my favorite bar/restaurant and even a short walk from my apartment complex. And yet, in the nine years that I've been in D.C., I still haven't gone. Hopefully, this year will be different.
The festival runs from March 11 to March 22 and includes screenings of 115 short and full-length films on a range of environmental topics. I think that I'll check out a few free screenings at at the Natural History Museum this weekend (Saving Luna, in particular, looks good). Next weekend, I'll probably check out the National Gallery's screening of Garbage Warrior and Radiant City--because I just love the NGA's Film Programs. Given that I'm trying to get as much exposure to the Spanish language as possible, I'll probably see Redes & Vámonos con Pancho Villa! (not part of the DC EFF) this Sunday as well. Ah, I love free films!
I recommend that anyone who's interested in environmental issues, thinks that baby animals are cute, or likes to see the wild-human interface in action, check out the films to learn something new and (hopefully) emerge with a stronger respect of nature.
I spent most of the weekend studying Spanish. I'm on track to finish my Spanish books by the end of the month. Plus, I've started the habit of forming sentences and recalling words as they relate to my daily life. My Spanish vocabulary is rudimentary at best, but I'm learning. Floyd gave me a quick Spanish lesson on Saturday, which is was significant deed. He never wanted to speak to me in Spanish when we were dating because I'd always just give him a blank stare. How times have changed.
I plan on joining a Spanish Language group to practice my conversation skills. I also need to start watching novellas again and listening to Spanish music to give myself more varied exposure.
I still haven't signed up for a Spanish class. Mainly, I need to see if the accredited Saturday class I want to take would count as college intermediate level. I'd prefer a Saturday class given that I'm still hoping for a Hill job and don't think that it would be possible to be a new staffer and also take the alternative 3 hour Wednesday class offered by the USDA. The evenings are when all the receptions and happy hours take place, and I want to be able to take full advantage of them to meet more people. So if it turns out that the Saturday class is not the right level, I don't really know what I will do. But then, if I don't get a Hill job this whole issue will be moot.
More calls into offices have been made for me during the past week. It is comforting, humbling and scary to have folks vouch for me. I don't want to disappoint anyone and I want to be sure that I'm able to pay them back when the time comes. I just need to focus on the first step, landing an interview, and relegate payback and thank you notes to after I've received and accepted an offer.
On a side note, an alumnus that I talked to about hill employment recommended that I read Chris Matthew's Hardball for insight into what really happens on the Hill. I have requested the book from a neighboring library, but in the meantime, I'm reading Life's a Campaign. It is very engaging and keeps me mindful of the "games people play" on the Hill and many other sectors for that matter. But as was pointed out, I think that I should reread The Prince.
Peace Corps Medical Review
I have three appointments scheduled this week to fill out my medical forms. I'm seeing an eye doctor tonight, an internist on Wednesday and a woman's health practitioner on Friday. I'm not looking forward to having every part of my body poked and answering personal questions, but I need to make sure that I'm in good health so that I can serve in the Peace Corps without any problems (especially if the nearest hospital is hundreds of miles away).
I recently recommended that a friend try crazy blind date (CBD). She was telling me how hard it is to find a great guy in this city who's not intimidated by a strong career woman. It's very weird that that's her experience in D.C. because D.C. is full of assertive career women--at least all my friends are. It makes me wonder how any D.C. woman is able to score a good guy if most of the D.C. guys really are wimps, full of themselves, or just playing the field.
CBD is set up so that you answer a few questions about your availability and where you want to meet. If you want, you can also fill out additional questions to help increase the likelihood of a match. Then, you get a confirmation email and text about your date (the when and the where).
It definitely is crazy but who knows what sort of
desperate adventurous people use the service. I recommended that my friend try the service at once. If he's horrible, she can leave; but if he's great, she'll have met someone new and interesting without much pressure or financial expense (associated with a match.com membership).
I find it interesting that CBD offers such an easy and quick way to meet someone new. But it makes me wonder if CBD is just match.com on steroids--offering quicker dates (though in many cases, just quicker hookups).
My friend noted that CDB sets up double dates and asked if I would come along. Reluctantly, I agreed. I'll be there for moral support and a good laugh, but I have no expectation of anything else. In fact, I've sworn off the dating scene. The man-fast has been officially extended well beyond 2009. I just want to avoid romantic or sexual relationships in favor of cultivating my friendship and deepening my experience of D.C. before I leave for the Peace Corps. Despite all the stories I've been told, I doubt that there will be any opportunities for me to have a serious relationship in the Peace Corps. But mostly, I want to avoid drama and heartache in favor of self-actualization and freedom--at least for now.
Over the weekend, I watched the latest Brenda Watson special on PBS. She was introducing her latest book, The Detox Strategy: Vibrant Health in 5 Easy Steps (RENEW: Remove, Eliminate, Nourish, Energize and achieve Wellness). Although I thought that she was a bit alarmist at times about the sort of toxins we are exposed to on a normal basis, she did have very good points about what a healthy/normally functioning body is able to do with those toxins (eliminate them) and what an unhealthy/abnormally functioning body does with them (store them). Her discussion focused on reducing your exposure and ensuring that your body can properly remove any toxins that you consume or absorb.
I must admit that I was distracted by her outfit during most of the show, but I did learn a few things that I hope to incorporate into my daily life. First, I want to purchase a shower filter. I didn't realize how much water my body absorbs in the shower. Absorbing water in the shower is great in terms hydration and ensuring that my skin feels moisturized. But given that tap water isn't as clean as it could be (and often contains traces of chemicals, metals, etc---though, thankfully, no microorganisms like in many developing countries!), I should be alarmed about what else my body is taking in. Please note that I am not endorsing the use of bottle water! If you are concerned, use a filter. It's cheaper, better for the environment, etc than going through a thousand bottles a year. Plus, some of the bottled water is just purified tap water anyway!
Watson also brought up the absorption of other substances through skin. This is something I knew about but didn't feel that alarmed about--until now. I'm making a stand. Over the next year, I'm going natural. Yes, that includes my hair (though mainly in preparation for Peace Corps)! I want to pay more attention to the sorts of moisturizers, deodorants, and other toiletries I put on my skin. I know that I'll probably get cancer at some point in my life (for both hereditary and environmental reasons) but I want to reduce the risk. Besides having the product's chemicals absorbed by and stored in my body, those chemicals are also flushed into the environment during production and disposal (washed off my skin or poured down the drain). I can only imagine how much gunk I've put into the environment as a result of my petroleum-based lotion addiction.
So, the next time I'm at Whole Foods, I'm going to check out the personal care aisle for better options. I've gotten quite comfortable with my moderate environmental lifestyle. It's time to shake things up and push myself further. I can definitely do more.
2008 was supposed to be a big year for me. I was supposed to go through the Peace Corps application process, secure a Hill job by March 1, finish my novel, and spend the whole year exploring DC one last time before I packed up for home.
So far, I'm only partially on track. Yes, my Peace Corps application is moving along. I still need to do the medical review and complete a year of Spanish, but I'm on track. Yes, I have some great events planned during the upcoming weeks to celebrate my time in D.C. But, I've stopped writing my novel and dropped out of my writing group. I doubt that I'll be able to pick up creative writing again this year, which is very sad. All my free time must be devote to writing cover letters, studying Spanish, packing/moving, and getting my Peace Corps application on track. Significantly, I haven't secured a Hill job and the prospects aren't looking good.
During the past few months, I've talked to several staffers and former staffers about securing a Hill job. Everyone has been very helpful and supportive but it all comes down to who you know and timing. The election season should make finding a Hill job easier as staffers flock to campaigns. But it also means that less will be happening on the Hill. A coworker suggested that I seek a campaign job and I'm considering it. I mean, is working on the Hill for no more than 8 months really worth it?
I acknowledge that I'd make some really great connections that would be helpful in securing a dream job in the new Congress. But how useful will those connections be if I'm shipped off in January?
At the same time, working on the Hill has been on my list of "things to do before I leave D.C." for a while. If nothing else, working on the Hill—even for a few months—will be an interesting experience. It'll be hard work with long hours and little pay. I'll probably be unfairly treated by a domineering Member or backstabbing co-worker. Yet, I will get to freely walk the hall of Congress once again, give tours (STAR/VIP 4eva!), get a reality check when communicating with folks outside of the Beltway and generally be a part of a long tradition of young people launching their careers with Hill employment.
So I'm going to give it one last push. I'm hoping that the resumes I've already submitted and the ones I plan on submitting this month will result in a call in March or April. Thereafter, I'm going to start looking more seriously at my other options.
I don't see myself working at my current job for much longer. But I need reasonable health insurance during the upcoming months to get my Peace Corps medical review completed. So I'll have to be very, very smart about my next steps. Thankfully, I still have some time to figure things out.