Greeting from Montreal! I am sitting here at the family dining table in our maison sur l’Avenue Wilson. I like to whip out my French on the internet, because then people can’t see my scrunched up face and stuttering speech. They think I’m fluent, or at least proficient. In reality, French gives me a bit of un ache dans my head. On the other hand, Frangalis (translation: Frenglish), is something I’m confident enough in to list on my resume.
I think it’s been a bit of a while since I’ve posted, but rest in the blessed assurance that I’ve been having a real good time. For example, last week one of my friends and I went to the International Spy Museum. Although it’s one of the few museums that require payment, it is an incredible assortment of historical gadgets, stories, history, CIA and FBI crimes and trials, double agents, and more. If you’re ever in the area, I highly recommend dropping in. The underworld of information will blow your mind…and the government is probably watching your mind get blown.
This week has been a little crazy with the long process of writing a research paper, but I finally finished Friday at 3am, and I submitted FROM A BUS. Yes, my bus had wi-fi, folks. This is what the twenty first century is supposed to look like. If my jet pack doesn’t have wireless, then I didn’t want it anyway. My paper is a thorough and complete analysis on E-Verify, an online government system that is supposed to prevent you from accidentally hiring an illegal immigrant. I came to DC two months ago with little to no knowledge about our immigration system, but my class has been policy-immersion 101. I’ve had the chance to listen to loads of brilliant individuals, including the minority and majority leaders of the subcommittee on immigration, which is a part of the Committee of the Judiciary, in Congress. I’ve also met with unions, lobbyists, Christian nonprofits, and think tanks. We spend about two out of our three classes in someone else’s office.
I want to share an abbreviated version of an article from thoughtcatalog.com with you. It is the most comprehensive and compact understanding of life in D.C. that I have found. Maybe I laugh because the truth hurts, but I hope it gives you a sneak peek into my life in the Capitol, and into the lives of the people I work with:
Get accepted into a “competitive” fellowship or internship or entry level lobbying position – whatever. Think this is it: it’s only a matter of time before you are saving the world (or securing a “real” job). Ride the metro for the first time in your life. Go the wrong direction. Have people from NYC scoff at you for being confused. Look at your bank account and realize you’ve spent $200 that week on tennis shoes, a plastic drawer set, pad thai, metro fares, cabs, alcohol, brunch, an umbrella, Tylenol, toothpaste and a new suit. Silently kick yourself.
Learn to take the bus. Put yourself on a budget. Visit Safeway and realize that you can’t stuff your trunk with a month’s worth of Ramen noodles and Capri Suns. Buy a goofy cart, fill it with groceries, try to include something healthy. Realize you’ve lost 10 lbs from walking so much.
Make friends fast. Everyone is friendly. Everyone is from somewhere else. They are away from home for the first time like you, or coming from a 6 year grad/law school program where they helped with AIDS research. Whoa, people are smart in DC. Clutch your B.A. in Political Science, or Government, or History, or Women’s Studies for dear life. See more diversity than you ever have in your entire life living back home.
Spend half your time answering phones, meeting people for coffee, getting recommendations from others about how you just have to talk to so and so. Email them for coffee. Realize you probably have an addiction. File paperwork, run errands, respond to letters, work late.
Go to a “networking” event. Listen to the person speaking incessantly about themselves and what they do. Want to punch them. Want to jump out the window. Leave feeling defeated. After meeting 100 new contacts and handing out dozens of cards, realize you have not had a substantial conversation in what feels like days.
Have nights where you have absolutely nothing to do. Feel lonely. Call home. Skype with a friend. Wonder what the hell you ever came to DC for.
Pass by a homeless person on the way to the metro. Realize that for being the capitol of the country, there is a lot of disparity. Read about the poor education system. Notice that most of the Senate staffers are white. All of the service workers are not. Feel disconnected to the reason you came here. Get frustrated with D.C. traffic, slow metros, bad neighborhoods, expensive cost of living, and overall insanity. Wonder if going through a metal detector everyday is healthy for you. Feel guilty and powerless. You are not saving the world.
Work with different types of people. Feel pressured to get more education. Meet lots of douchey law students or worse: pre-law students. Meet people who intern at the White House. Become annoyed with people who intern at the White House. Your 8 months here have made you more judgmental. Become less trusting.
Life here is cyclical. Parties switch. Power shifts. Become jaded with politics. Wonder if you even matter, if anyone’s work even makes a difference. Read a bill that you helped draft. Think you just helped save a tiny piece of the world.Stop questioning your life path. Get invited to a gala or staff your boss at an event. See people you only see on Huffington Post, New York times or CNN up close. Realize you are in the center of it all. Hear the President speak. See the crowd move. Shake his hand. Stare at hand. Call your parents.
Pause on a beautiful spring day. Smell the cherry blossoms. Think: Damn, I live in D.C.
When I first read this piece I was shocked, because Clarissa Ramon (the author) did an excellent job portraying the life of a DC intern. I would say that I’m at an advantage to the average intern because I live with 40 amazing, Christian young adults, and I’ve plugged in to the community with church and volunteering. However, for the thousands of interns who literally run this city, the awe-to-disenchantment happens all the time. There’s a huge turnover rate here in DC, and I’ve been told that many people leave from sheer loneliness.
I’ve got an article coming out in Mars Hill, TWU’s student newspaper, in the near future, so keep your eyes out for it. It’ll be on the Israel missions trip and unity in the Church. Tell me you’re inspired enough to sign up for the 2013 trip.
This evening, I write from the comfort of the little Montreal house, wearing the sweatshirt of one parent and the slippers of the other. This afternoon I face-timed a dear friend I went to Israel with, and the smell of split-pea soup permeates the whole house. I ate a whole bowl of rice pilaf for snack, and I had Dunkin Donuts glazed donuts for breakfast. It is good to be surrounded by food again. Yesterday, I read a murder mystery novel cover to cover, and I went shopping with my mother. I’ve taken my dog on hours-worth of walks. I haven’t spent more than a minute here and there on my phone. I haven’t done school work. I think I can conclude that this is exactly what Fall Break is supposed to be!
Before I sign off, I thought I’d share a few pictures.
Although this is a random, mish-mash of recent events, thank you for reading :)