Life’s a Zoo

Hi all!

Hope you are doing well. To my university friends, I pray for you as you buckle down for the last haul. It’s not much further. Actually, for myself at least, I can’t believe how quickly this semester has blown by. It seems that each day drags on very slowly, with piles and piles of to-do lists, but each week is gone before I blink. I will be home all too soon!

A few weeks ago, I wrote to celebrate my Grandpa’s birthday. Today, I’m writing so that my poor Grammy, who went in for knee surgery, has something to do when the drugs wear off. Sitting around is only exciting for so long, y’know.

My last update was the day before elections, and the city was completely abuzz. Everyone had big plans for the night. Because I’m the female event coordinator here at the DC BestSemester programs, I had planned to dedicate my evening to the party here at BestSemester. We had the TVs playing CNN and NBC, and everyone feasted on clam chowder, brownies in the shapes of elephants and donkeys, and enough pizza to feed both campaigns. As the polls closed time zone by time zone, the majority of students packed into our living room. I’ll be honest: 80% of the program is Republican, so it was pins-and-needles as we watched Ohio and Florida sway back-and-forth, red and blue.

At about 10pm, one of the girls in this program decided she wanted to spend the rest of the evening down by the White House. It was her birthday, and so it seemed like a fun adventure to have. Five of us agreed to un-plaster our faces from the TV screen (if only because they had 4G wireless on their iPhones, and we would be consistently updated), and head down to Penn and 16th.

We got off the Metro at about 10:35; it was the right choice. Already we could hear the George Washington University students hollering from dorm windows, and there were small groups of people heading our same direction. We reached the South Lawn and expressed mutual disappointment: it was dark, uneventful, and no one was there. BUT THEN: then we hear the cheers and car horns and screaming, and the Secret Service men have radios chattering, and the streets are literally being filled with (presumably) the entirety of the GW student body. Us five insignificant ASP students begin to sprint towards the front of the White House. The yard is a lot bigger than it looks. In other words, I was sore for the next three days.

Anyway, DC exploded into celebration when news of Obama’s victory came. It’s a very Democrat city. Not even five minutes after it was announced, a thousand students were piled in front of the gates of the President’s home. Already the police were setting up barricades restricting the amount of people who could get close. I was with my roommate; we had lost the other three. Undoubtedly they couldn’t run as quick as me. Undoubtedly.

My roomie (who is a staunch Republican, and had an iPad bet with her father over Romney’s victory) yelled: “Too bad we can’t get to the front!”

The patriotism was contagious, so I confided that I was pretty good with crowds. She grabbed my hand and, not even two minutes later, we were right up against the White House — well, minus the space for the two-foot barricade and twenty-plus Secret Service. The news crews were circling like vultures; their bright lights captured the cheering faces of the thousands of university students. My roommate was so embarrassed to be among the screaming Obama-supporters that she ducked whenever a camera came within a twelve-foot radius. She’s probably on Instagram somewhere, though! (by the way, if you’d like to see my Instagram feed but don’t have a smartphone, you can view the photos and my captions at: http://www.instagram.com/zmaked)

People were singing (or screaming?) the national anthem and chanting “USA, USA” like there was no tomorrow. I, being a cynic, wished them the best in trying to getting jobs in this economy, BUT: I hid my true Obama sentiments the best I could, because I was afraid of being killed in a mob of drunk university students waving effigies of Barack and Michelle.

Right in front of the White House!!

By the time we slipped away and found some of our original group, we began the long trek home in the FREEZING cold weather. Freezing. Cold. I’m talking Santa Clause cold. Why, you ask, would I walk home at midnight? Well, my friends, I learned a hard lesson. The Metro closes at midnight even on Election Day. C’est la vie. (Actually, about half way, we hailed the only free cab left in DC and defrosted for $10).

So now that I have highlighted the painful Republican loss in a blog-post that is supposed to make my Grammy feel better, we’ll move along to my recent zoo adventure.

Hand of a gecko.

I went to the National Zoo this past weekend. The National Zoo is free, which is awesome, but what’s more awesome-er? It’s literally a park: you just walk in through various entrances. There are no entry booths or check-in points or turnstiles. Just winding, broad, paved paths that meander past and into animal exhibits.

Here’s my roomie and I smiling in front of the Panda exhibit.

I went with a roommate, and we saw the lions roar, the tiger pace, the orangutan eat its own poop, the chimpanzees make tools to earn treats, and a snake hiss and attack the glass. The only animal we did not get to see were the giant pandas, who are the stars of the zoo. Apparently the pandas go to sleep at 4:30. They’re still on China time.

Here I am on a bridge crossing the elephant’s compound. See what I mean about the zoo being an actual park??

Last Friday my classmates and I got to experience quite a professional adventure. The program director booked a briefing room in Congress — the briefing room of the Committee on the Judiciary! We were broken up into four policy “teams,” and we went through the entire process of trying to finalize a bill. It was awesome. We got to use the microphones and sit up at the front of the big ol’ room at the speaker desks. The best part was that we actually sounded like we knew what we were talking about. We probably could have held a decent conversation with the actual Subcommittee on Immigration just fine and dandy.

Trying to look smart in our pseudo Congressional Briefing. What’s in that secretive black folder? Policy recommendations on E-Verify. Shazam.

Yesterday — Sunday — I went to Eastern Market like I like to do. Everywhere I travel to, I buy a scarf as a souvenir. At the Market I found a trunk full of vintage silk scarves for $5, and I bought myself one. It’s quite pretty. That excellent sale being said, it was not the highlight of my day. “What?” you say. “You get the deal of the day and it’s not the highlight?” Ah. But it was not the deal of the day.

You see, relationships and travelling are good investments. I strolled down a few more booths and discovered this really great vintage skirt. It was $35 dollars. I was not paying $35 for a vintage skirt. My thought process? That’s eight frappuccinos, and let’s be honest: I’m still buying the frappuccinos. The salesman, however, was a really cool guy. He was in his late 40s, from the Dominican, and a frequent flyer to China. His wife’s family was from the Bay Area, and he had briefly dated a girl from Montreal once. We had plenty of small talk to chew through for a good 20, 25 minutes. In the end, he gave me the skirt. I protested, of course, but he insisted. It certainly is a treasure now and makes for a very good story.

My Sundays are a bit busy: I volunteer from 8:30 to 10:45 in Sunday school, and then I sit in on the second service from 11:00 to 12:45 before I walk through the Market. This past Sunday featured a guest speaker from Ethiopia. I LOVE AFRICAN HUMOR. I think my funny bone is African.

The sermon was on the passage where Jesus casts out the demon/s Legion, which clearly isn’t funny content. But the pastor was. Each time that the pastor stated the obvious about the text, he would pat himself on the back and say, “Good preachin’ pastor,” and I would die laughing all over again. His message was that Legion, the single voice of the many demons, represents the force that the Church is supposed to oppose. If the Church can have a single voice for its many members, it will be the stronger force. Until then, the disjointed Church allows for Legion, or the united demonic forces, an equal footing (if not stronger footing).

The pastor also had some wisdom on government, in light of the recent elections. He said that in a sports game, no one gets angry at the scoreboard. That, according to him, is insanity. You get mad at the players. When the game is really down, you mix things up: sub players, swap positions, explore new tactics, try new strategies. Politics, the pastor said, is the scoreboard. You can yell all you want, but the scoreboard merely reflects the game. Getting angry at the scoreboard is insanity. If you want to change government, he said, you have to change up the key players. In our case, the teams are the Church and the World. And the pastors advice? Our strategy of “religion” isn’t working. Get rid of religion and return to the Bible. If Americans lived with Christ’s love and Christ’s attitude, then government would reflect the values of the majority.

My favorite joke of the pastor’s was in regards to a story he was telling about bombs. He told us that while he was preparing for the sermon in his hotel room, he went to Google a word. He couldn’t remember “detonate.” I can’t remember his exact name, it was something along the lines of Dimmisse Iskinder. He told the laughing congregation, “I was going to look up the word, you know, like when they pull the pin out of the bomb, and I realized: I am in Washington, DC, and my name is (a very foreign sounding name), and I’m searching about blowing up bombs. I did not want to the police to come for me; I wanted to get to church on time! I’m sorry, but I didn’t press enter.”

Well, it’s now midnight here, which means this post isn’t going to get a reading-over for typos. Oh well. Sleep > Typos. Have a great week. I hope you all have weather as lovely as we’ve had here.

Much love,
Emily

p.s. Grammy, I hope this took up a good ten minutes of your day. Emphasis on “good” :)

One last zoo shot for good measure. Here I am playing “Tarzan,” riding an ape.

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3 thoughts on “Life’s a Zoo

  1. Emily, I’m always fasinated with the depth of your stories and they are always so entertaining to read about your adventures – whether it is a trip to the White House or a journey to the Zoo. Always a fun trip. Love Grandpa Z

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