Two Stories and A Lot of Words

Good evening my delightful readers,

I hope the West Coast is treating you well. Here in D.C., I’ve spent my day with my eyes on the sky, not because of some divine inspiration or heavenly thought, but because if I looked down for long, I would probably drown. It’s been raining cats and dogs. No, it’s been raining lions and St. Bernards. I thought they might close the Metro for fear of flooding. It would have been “Day after Tomorrow” D.C.-style. Don’t worry: my mom insisted I learn to swim years ago.

I’m an upfront kind of person. I don’t want anyone to have any misconceptions. So I’m just gonna say it. Ready? This is a long post. BUT DO NOT FEAR. Throughout the course of this novel, I have inserted pauses for your convenience. You will be allowed to go to the bathroom without losing your place.

By the way, this is the music that I listen to while studying. It has a wonderful ambiance. I encourage you to listen to its soothing notes while reading my blog. You may notice that it is 45 minutes of music. You may have to push replay.

That being said, I’m going to begin with a story. This is a story about a young girl who sets off to live in another country. BUT, she realizes that her bank might cause some difficulties. In her excitement, she shrugs those worries aside. A few weeks later, this girl remembers the harsh reality of bill-paying. So, she logs into to pay off her credit card. To her dismay, however, the website rejects her! Repeatedly! And then again for the heck of it! This girl is a little frustrated, and calls the 1-800 number to sort things out.

“Welcome,” says a man with a foreign accent. “How can I help you?”

“I need to access my online bank account,” she says.

“Can you provide your telephone access security code?”

“Err…no. I don’t have one of those.”

She hears the man grunt awkwardly. “Ok. Can you please provide me a security word?”

“A word?”

“Yes, ma’am,” he says. “Just give me any word that has any relation to any question you think up.”

And so the girl gives the man a random word. The girl then discovers that she just created her own security code to access an account that she previously needed a security code to access.

“Do you have your branch and account numbers?” The man asks.

“No,” says the girl, very confused.

“That’s ok,” he says. “They are…” and then he proceeds to tell her all of her account information. “You’ll need this to create a telephone access security code.”

The girl laughs uncomfortably, as she sees multiple holes in this security system. She created a security word based on an imaginary security question in order to receive all of her bank account information, which would then be used to create a security telephone code to access her online account.

I have a confession: I am that girl. I bet you didn’t see that coming, but it’s true. The story is less painful when told in the third person.

Moving on. (And yes, I did finally get to pay my credit card.)

This is your first break. Use it. If the above story moved you to tears, grab a Kleenex. If you’re enthralled by the study music, close your eyes and pretend you’re killing Ganandorf and saving that useless lump-of-a-princess Zelda. This would also be a good time to get some popcorn. 

Welcome back. I hope you enjoyed your time away from my enthralling life. What’s that? You’re too kind. I missed you too.

On Wednesday afternoon I went to the Holocaust Museum. “Emily!” you say. “This is supposed to be a funny post!” Ah…yes. But I forgot about this part when I wrote that.

The Holocaust Museum tracks the rise and fall of Hitler’s Nazi regime, and specifically focuses on the reality of life in concentration camps. The museum featured four people groups, specifically: the Jews, the Roma, the handicapped, and the Nazi’s political opponents. Additionally, it spent a good bit of time recognizing individuals who stood up against this injustice.

One aspect that arose out of this tour, however, was the idea of compartmentalization. How do we live our lives, and yet formulate appropriate responses to the pains of the world? For example, we discussed the TV news. People sit in front of their TVs and have the same response to the Yankee’s victorious baseball game as they do to an earthquake in Turkey. This cannot be healthy, but it is quite common. The subject is certainly food for thought. We didn’t come up with an answer, except that we must protect our hearts while empathizing with Christian love.

On a lighter note, I’ve had a GREAT time these past few days with FaceTime, Skype, and a new app called KakaoTalk. I mentioned this before, but it costs me about 75 cents per text, and $1.25 per minute to use my cell phone. With these three tools, however, I’ve had long, delightful conversations with both sets of grandparents, my sister, my mom and dad, and my dear friends Ally and Hannah.

If you would like to contact me via any of these outlets, let me know! I’ll gladly give you any information you need to set these up. The best way to get a hold of me is still through Facebook, however. I check it often. Did I mention I check it often? Oh, I do. Really often. Actually, I check it less when I don’t have homework due, so the best time to get a hold of me is RIGHT before a major deadline.

I also learned about a new form of communication. It’s called the U.S. Postal Service. I think it’s an Obama Administration initiative to create jobs. Basically, you send cardboard boxes or paper letters through these buildings called Post Offices. After a few months, I get the letters or boxes here in D.C. It’s kinda cool!

You can mail letters to: 

Emily Zmak

327 8th St. NE

Apt. 8

Washington, D.C. 20002

You can mail packages to: 

Emily Zmak

321 8th St. NE

Washington, D.C. 20002

This is a perfect example of a “package.” My mother sent me this t-shirt, and it coordinated with our assigned readings PERFECTLY. Our class discussion was on how we will NOT change the world, and so I wore this to be sassy. If you can’t tell, it says: “One Day I’ll Change the World.”

This is your next break. Quick, run to the bathroom. Grab the whole carton of ice cream. Let the dog out. Stick a pacifier in the baby. Do a jumping jack or two. I’ll be waiting right here. No rush; I have no plans other than sitting. right. here.

Glad you made it back. To be honest, these “breaks” are really just a way for the weak to fall aside. You’re the strong. You’re the brave. 

But seriously. You are brave.

To reward you for your perseverance, I’ve saved the best for last. I’m going to tell you another story. Fortunately for you, I can face this one from first person.

I came home after a long day of classes and city visits. D.C.’s a big place, and I had walked and walked and walked. Then, I climbed up four flights of stairs until I reached the very top of the tallest tower. “Finally,” I said as I opened the apartment door.

“We have a problem,” said Roommate 1.

“Yes?” asked I.

“Someone flushed the flusher.”

Uh, ok. How the HECK did we managed to do THAT? Sure enough, our flusher was missing. We had to remove the back of the toilet tank in order to pull the lever on the inside.

This was a perfectly manageable obstacle. We all went to bed without much worry on our tired minds.

“Crap, crap, crap,” thud, thud, thud. “Oh my God!”

This was my “Good Morning,” the following day.

“Roommate 2?” I hear Roommate 3 yell.

Roommate 2 has somehow ripped the entire shower rod out of the wall, and the sopping wet curtain and pole sat, collapsed, on the bathroom floor.

On a tangent, you should know that our bathroom floor is disgusting. Roommate 3 told the rest of us, “You all have WAY darker hair than me.” I responded, “You all have WAY longer hair than me.” I won the argument: I am not at fault for the living, breathing, moving, hairy tiles.

ANYWAY, back to the story. The facilities manager soon fixed up our bathroom for us. Once he left, however, we broke the toilet again. The chain fell off of the inside lever, and we had to reach our hands into the grayed, grungy, bleach-stinking water to pull the OTHER lever at the bottom of the tank.

Additionally, our shower and sink decided to drip incessantly.

Moral of the story: we now shower in the kitchen sink and shave the tile floors often.

Ok, not really. But it was an adventure. To commemorate this event, we each wrote a short paragraph for the beginning of a children’s book. We feel that had we been given children’s stories that narrated the adventures of the bathroom, we would not have had so many problems as young adults. My story began like this:

Once upon a time, in a land unfortunately near by, five girls slept peacefully in their beds. They were students from all over the world, with all sorts of interests, who had come to live at the very top of a tower, in a very important city. However, none had ever expected to befall such an unfortunate series of events.

For, beneath their boring gray carpets and dingy tile floors, a monster of misfortune lurked in their pipes. His raging head was shaped like the lever of a toilet handle, and his spindly back looked like the peeling SheetRock of the shower walls. His hiss sounded like a running loo, and his claws clanked like the chain in the tank.

I am fortunate that, as a 20-something young adult, I still have the ability to blame my childhood for the holes of my adulthood. It is a blessing, and I know it can only last a few more years…but until then, I hold it close.

Yep, you guessed it. This is your final break. If you feel so inspired, you can go check all of your toilets to ensure that they are working fine. I would also suggest running stairs, or at least strolling through the kitchen. Sitting too long allows the blood to accumulate in your butt, and you can actually have your legs amputated. Well, maybe. 

Welcome back! I hope you got the chance to peek out at the life you once had; it really is so kind of you to sacrifice your relationships in order to read about my silly adventures.

I just want to finish up and answer some questions about my internship. I’m working at the Council on Foreign Relations, which is a think tank that works closely with the Department of State (among others) to formulate foreign policy. They are most famous for their Foreign Affairs publication, which is a well-known academic journal. Also, they have about 4500 members who are accomplished in the international relations community. My internship works with these members.

I will be assisting in the implementation of conferences for the members. Usually the conference surrounds a meal, and has two speakers from two sides of an issue. Additionally, a moderator is brought in. This coming Tuesday I will be helping with a dinner conference for 250 people, and the speakers are foreign affairs advisers to Obama and Romney. The moderator works for Time Magazine.

I will be working right next door to the White House, and so I am very excited to get to photograph the President’s home in all its glory. You will be seeing more photos of the White House than you ever thought possible, I’m sure. I’ll try to hold back the floodgates. After all, if you already have to read 1000 words, why would you ever want to see another 1000 in a photograph? (this is actually 2200 words, bless yer heart.)

If you have any questions, be sure to leave a comment in the space below. I sometimes feel like I’m talking to my computer. Well, and my grandparents and parents. I know they read this because I call to make sure that they do. Hah! Suckers.

Much love from D.C.,


p.s. Here’s a photo. Add 1000 words onto that word count. Bah.

Here’s the Washington Monument, backlit by the setting sun. By the way, I was told that light pink sunsets aren’t natural: they are a sign of pollution. Anyhoo, I snapped this picture on a night walk towards the other monuments. I have always wanted to go in this structure; hopefully I will get the chance one day. They are fixing a large crack in the side from the 2011 earthquake.


4 thoughts on “Two Stories and A Lot of Words

  1. Emily, I always delight in each blog post update you write. Each one feels like a visit with you where I find myself laughing, being challenged to think deeply and able to catch up on life’s adventures and misadventues. When I got to the first “break” in your blog post, I felt like you must have been seeing into my life for I did indeed have a bowl of popcorn beside me which I was eating while enjoying your blogpost. Fortunately your blogpost was the perfect length to last through my bowl of popcorn. I miss you. Emily <3

  2. Emily! I thoroughly enjoyed this post. You definitely have a way with words, and it wasn’t at painful at all to read. This sounds like quite the adventure! May you be blessed in your experience there :)
    – Carly

  3. You should know that you are something of a celebrity here at TWU. Whether you choose to believe it or not you have acquired QUITE the following. Us “Pols Girls” regularly exclaim over your literary genius and the excitement of your adventures. Keep the posts comin Em…they are highlights for us! Miss you so much! xoxo

  4. You have such a way with words! I must admit I listened to the soundtrack as I read through your blog and let me tell you I felt like I was on a wild adventure at times. It was great ! Thanks for sharing ;) Continue to enjoy this time and squeeze everything you can out of it! Blessings

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