Sunday, December 18, 2011

Places I've Been So Far

I absolutely loved  this TV show & computer game!
So I found this nifty little widget online where you can make a map of all the places that you've been.  I started filling mine out, and I've been to four of seven continents (awesome), but only 3% of the countries in the world.  I think Carmen San Diego would have hit 100% on the map.  Time to increase these stats and turn some more countries green!  Hopefully, I will get a chance to go to some new places during law school since the only cure for the travel bug is, you guessed it, to travel!  Here is the link to my map that appears below:

Encontré un "widget" en el internet y con eso, puedes hacer un mapa que dibuja verde los países que has vistado.  Comencé a llenar mi mapa, y todavía he visitado cuatro por siente continentes (que guay!), pero solamente he visitado tres porciento de todos los países del mundo.  Creo que Carmen San Diego ha visitado cien porciento de los países en el mapa.  Ahora, necesito mejorar estas estadísticas y poner más países verde!  Ojalá que voy a tener la opertunidad para visitar algunos lugares nuevos durante mi tiempo en la facultad de derecho, porque la única cura para la enfermedad del impulso de viajar es viajando!

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Week Five: Down to the Wire

This was my last week of my internship.  By this afternoon, I will be back in my hometown with two weeks before moving into law school and what is sure to be "1L" of a year (sorry for the terrible pun).

On Tuesday, we had a ton of spare time because it's the last week of our internship and because the Senate is in recess.  So, we wandered over to the Dirksen Senate gift shop.  Apparently, there is no sales tax there so we had some fun.  They had a lot of random and cool stuff, but at the end of the trip, I walked out with some postcards, a Senate key chain, and a Senate shot glass (original, I know).  

On Wednesday, I woke up really early to go to the State Department's Authentication Office to get one of my high school friend's application to teach English abroad apostilled.  I got there really early, but the office was already full.  There was another person about my age there getting her teaching application apostilled too, but most of the other people there were people who are paid to get documents authenticated on behalf of private clients who don't feel like doing this themselves.  I only had the one document to take care of for my friend so I was done shortly after they started seeing people at the counter.  I was able to catch the Circulator Bus back to work and made it only 15 minutes late.  Because I got up so early to get to the metro, I also realized that the Capitol complex looks really beautiful with the sun coming up in the early morning around 6:00am.  I met up with another fellow for lunch in one of the House cafeterias and it was nice to chat about law school and everything.  

After work, the interns from my office and I went to McDonalds for dinner and then to the Smurfs movie at Chinatown (by the way, that McDonalds is by far the shadiest McDonalds ever - the cops had to stand inside & outside the restaurant).  During our internship, one of the interns always would talk about her food cravings and one day she wanted McDonalds so she brought back a Happy Meal with a smurf toy in it.  The smurfs thing caught on in our little intern office and we all had our own smurfs.  The movie was obviously not that great, but it did explain why certain smurf toys that we each had were doing what they were doing.  It was also good to be able to see people relaxing a bit outside of work.

Since this was my last week in DC before going back to start law school, I met up with my former organization for a happy hour at Ozio's.  It's a pretty cool place with nice lounge areas inside and a lounge/bar/dance floor on the rooftop.  We had a whole section reserved for our group on the roof.  We had fun but when the DJ decided that after three requests from our group (we were the only ones dancing too) that he would not play our "theme" song, "Black and Yellow" by Wix Khalifa, we left.  However, we learned that Moby Dick's Kabob House closes really early at night.  We ended up wandering a few blocks to a new place called Friends Kabob which was just as good and open late.

Friday, August 12, was our last day of the internship. Early this morning, like 6:00am, I met up on the Capitol complex with another intern that lived nearby so that we could take pictures of the buildings in the morning when they look really pretty with the morning sun.  At 6:00am, it was already 70 degrees.  It was nice though because no one was around aside from a few security guards.

In the afternoon, I met up with another fellow and one of our friends to give a tour of the Capitol building.  It was cool because the other fellow worked with a House office and I was with the Senate so our friend got both sides of the tour.  We were able to go pretty much everywhere, including the hideaway office.  That afternoon, four other interns and I took our smurfs and did a Capitol Hill tour for ourselves and to take pictures.  A few times, tourists saw us and asked if we were part of the Cult of the Smurf.

After work, I went home to change and then headed over to E Street Cinema, a really cool movie theatre that plays a unique film selection, to see "The Devil's Double."  The film is based on a true story but also highly fictionalized with more "Hollywood" added to it, but was a really interesting, graphic story about Udday Hussein's body double.

After the film, I headed back to Clarendon to go to Liberty Tavern and Clarendon Ballroom for the last time (for this trip) in DC.  I even got to practice more Spanish with someone we met at the bar.  After we left the club, I hopped on the metro back to Capitol South to go home and pack up all of my stuff.  I had done part of the checkout before I left so I really just had to clean the room and throw things back into the suitcase.  I finished packing around 4:00am.  One of my friends in the building was flying out the same day I was but we had different flight times (her cab left at 6:00am), so right before her cab left, she stopped by my room to say goodbye.

When I took my cab (an EnviroCab - if I can, I prefer to take a hybrid cab), the driver and I talked a bit about DC and then got to talking about soccer and the Barçelona - Manchester United game from a few weeks ago.  He said that the entire stadium was packed for the game so he and his friends had to watch from a tv in a bar.  We started talking about club soccer teams and when I was talking about Real Madrid, he asked if I was part Spanish, which made my day (and made for a larger tip even though there's no tipping cab drivers in Spain).  Even though I am really excited to go back home to see family and friends and do some kayacking and play some tennis, I'm going to miss DC.  But, it feels like I'll be returning soon anyway.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Week Four: Tours and More, Intern Extraordinaire

I kicked off the week by giving one of my former coworkers and her little brother who was visiting a private Capitol Tour.  Unfortunately, we could not get the key to the special hideaway office but we did ride the train with John McCain from the Russell Senate Building to the Capitol Visitors Center.  He walks really fast and is a lot taller than I thought he would be.  I also gave a tour for two of my friends in my building who moved out this week.  Another friend from my building works down the hall from my office, so the two of us gave a tour to the two of them.  It was kind of cool to give the tour with someone from another office because they tell us different things so she knew some things that I didn't know, like cat prints in the cement outside the old Supreme Court room.  

It's the middle of the fourth week of our five week internship and we are just now meeting the Senator for whom we have been working for free for the last three weeks.  Based on the articles that we copy on a daily basis that mention the senator, we learned that the senator's favorite kind of dessert is a plain chocolate chip cookie.  So, all of us interns decided to bake cookies to bring in for when we eat lunch with the senator but when we passed around the plate, the senator was the only one who didn't take a cookie.  Nooo!

At the lunch meeting, we had the opportunity to ask the senator questions.  The other interns were a little shy with asking questions so I asked two that related to foreign policy.  After I asked the second question, the senator said, "So, you're the foreign policy kid?"  I replied "yes," and the senator asked me, "so, then what is the capital of Sierra Leone?"  I replied, "Freetown."  I think the senator was a little surprised when I replied with the answer off the top of my head, but the senator explained that as a child, the siblings would ask their father that question whenever the father started going on and on about foreign policy stuff.  Then the senator answered my question.  

After the lunch meeting, I sorted mail with another intern.  Sorting constituent mail is always an interesting job because people send all kinds of things in.  Some people send in the normal things like petitions, letters about legislation or specific issues, or requests for military academy nominations, but there is a sizable number of people who just send in crazy stuff.  Like the random lady who sent in copies of her divorce settlement, including all of the pleadings, with a five page letter about how she basically did not like the judge's decision and wants her senators to do something about it (I'm sorry, lady, that you're going through a rough divorce, I really am, but honestly, what do you really think a senator's office can do about your situation?).  We also get a lot of letters from angry people who are venting in often less than coherent ways about their dissatisfaction with either their representative or the government as a whole.  Since we have to categorize mail to give to the staff members who handle each issue, the "government reform" category is often filled with the letters that we don't know what to do with.  So today, we received my all-time favorite letter: "BIG RICH FAT CATS DON'T DESERVE TAX BREAKS.  THEY PARTY, PLAY GOLF, AND TRAVEL A LOT."  And into the "government reform" pile that letter went.  And yes, it was written in all capital letters.

On Thursday, I got to go to an event hosted by my former organization close to the Hill.  They had a great turnout and it was great to be able to catch up with former co-workers there.  It was also nice to be able to give myself a self-assigned project that I actually wanted to write up and thought there was a need to write something up for it.  No idea if anyone back in the personal office will actually read it or not, but at least it's been passed along, I guess.  In the afternoon back at the senate office, two of the staff members who have been there for a while talked with us about what they do and what they like about working on Capitol Hill.  It was interesting and they certainly like their jobs, but I don't know if I could handle the frustration of working really hard on all of these important issues that I care deeply about only to watch any potential to make progress on them fall apart because of congressional bickering.  After work, I went to Adam's Morgan for a happy hour at Jack Rose Dining Saloon with my former organization.  It was great to be able to spend time catching up with everyone and meet new interns and fellows.  Later on in the evening, the group split up and I went with about half of the group to Lucky Bar near Dupont.

On Friday, we kept it pretty chill at work but a group of us from the office went to a free evening show at the Kennedy Center.  They have weekly shows that are free to the public on a first come first serve basis and today, the show was a musical performance by an Afro-Colombian group, Sexteto Tabala, whose main singer was 70 years old.  The group was pretty good though and they had a lot of people dancing in the front.

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Week Three: In the Summer Intern Groove

I gave my first Capitol Hill tour this past Tuesday to the brother of one of the Senator's regional representatives from my hometown.  The tour went pretty well and I saw the senator that I am working for for the first time so far on this internship in the Lincoln Stairway in the Capitol Building.  I even got the senator to stop and talk to us for a second or two in the stairwell.  I also saw Lindsey Graham from South Carolina with his Diet Coke and John Kerry from Massachusetts in the tunnels outside the Capitol Visitors Center.  

That same night, I went to my first ever professional sports game to see the Washington Nationals play the Florida Marlins.  The stadium was huge and even though neither of the two teams were very good, it was still really fun to be in the stands watching it all.  We got pretty good seats and I was able to get a Nats hat in a knock-off New Era style for a cheap price outside the stadium.  There's probably nothing more American to do in DC than to spend all day on Capitol Hill and then head straight to a baseball game.  

On Wednesday morning, half of us interns went on a tour of the Pentagon.  The tour was okay, basically just walking through a lot of hallways and didn't get to see anything super top secret.  We did learn that the soldiers that give the tour have to go through some crazy training ahead of time and they have to learn how to navigate the entire Pentagon tour route walking backwards.  We got to see the 9/11 Memorial and the windows in the memorial were green because of the mylar, a window treatment that is really heavy, but makes the windows shatterproof and bulletproof.  There is also a hotdog stand in the middle of the Pentagon and our tour guide told us that during the Cold War, the Soviets thought that it must have been a bunker or something really important because people were going in and out all day long.  There are 40,000 people in the Pentagon at any given time and it was built in 16 months out of concrete (to conserve steel) during World War II, but the renovations have taken over 15 years.  It is in the shape of a Pentagon because military forts at the time were built in this shape as well.  The complex also used to be called the "National Military Establishment" or "NME," but since the acronym when said quickly sounds like "enemy," people began referring to the complex as "the Pentagon."

On Thursday, I got to go on a tour of the State Department's diplomatic reception rooms.  I was the only intern who got to go on this tour because I had put in a special request on the first or second day with our office's receptionist.  I ended up getting the last available tour slot for July, which was pretty lucky on my part.  I was hoping that the tour would have more history of the State Department and the Foreign Service, etc., but it was still cool to see the reception rooms which are used for events.  There were a lot of really old pieces of furniture, a really cool grandfather clock, and Chinese porcelain.  For dinner, I met up with the interns from my organization in the Spring to celebrate one of our coworkers' birthday at Guapo's Restaurant in Tenlytown.  The food was great and it was so much fun to catch up with everyone.  

On Friday, one of my friends came to visit me at work so that I could give a private Capitol Hill tour.  We were able to get the key for the Senator's hideaway office in the Capitol Building.  The Senator has a really cool Americana collection in the office so we got to see a note written by Thomas Alva Edison, a library sign-in sheet with Charles Darwin's signature, a note by Abraham Lincoln, and some famous classic movie posters autographed by the stars.  There was also a block of marble that was from the Roosevelt Memorial. For lunch, we went over to Good Stuff Eatery to take advantage of their $10 weekday lunch special and when I was walking back to the hill, I saw a guy who looked like Remy from YouTube and turns out that it was.  My first celebrity sighting.  He was really cool and took a cell phone picture with me.  He's the guy that did the Arlington video, but this is probably my favorite song that he's done so far:

When I got back from my lunch break and celebrity spotting, I found out that the office had offered all of us interns tickets to see the Marine Barracks parade that night.  I called one of my friends and grabbed the free tickets for us and we went to the show that night.  It was all the drum and bugle corps stuff that is really cool to watch.  My favorite thing though was the rifle drill team.  They were so precise with all of their moves and their portion of the show was spectacular.  It looked something like this (below) but now imagine it with a full moon, spotlights, absolutely no other sounds on a beautiful summer night in front of the oldest Marine barracks in the country and you'll get an idea of just how awesome this was:

On Saturday, I tried to check out Rock Creek Park, which is supposed to be really cool and larger than Central Park in New York City.  However, after getting off of the metro and with cell phone GPS and multiple maps, it took over two hours to find the entrance to the park.  And once I got to the entrance, it was just a sign and a road with no street signs leading to who knows where.  It was so hot that after taking a picture next to the sign, I just turned around.  I watched part of the Barcelona-Manchester United game that was being played in DC (which clears up why all of these random people were wearing soccer jerseys) then watched a documentary about mixed race adoptions with friends from my building.

On Sunday, I took it easy and just wandered around doing my own thing.  I wandered over to Metro Center to do some shopping then over to Chinatown and then ended up at Barnes & Nobel.  I also went back the Natural History Museum to see more of their exhibit about race, which was pretty interesting.  I also went to the National Gallery of Art, which was nice, but not really my kind of art.  For dinner, I went with my friends from my building to Ben's Chili Bowl and then over to Malcolm X Park for the summer Sunday night drum circle.  It was really cool to see people of all different ages and backgrounds just bringing  every style of drum imaginable and playing together.  There must have been over 40 drummers with a few people playing trumpets and saxophones, and a handful dancing to the music.  

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Week Two: Summer Interning

The second week of internship was not as cool as the first week based on us not having very many projects to do.  I ended up assigning a memo for myself on a foreign policy issue that was being discussed in some hearing on the Hill during the week.  I was supposed to give my first Capitol Hill tour, which I was a bit nervous about because I really didn't want to get the tour group lost in the underground tunnels, but this problem never materialized because the group I was supposed to give the tour to never showed up.  

On Thursday night, I went to a lecture at the Natural History Museum called "Blended Nation: Portraits and Interviews of Mixed-Race America."  It was a really cool event and definitely something that I can personally relate to.  It is part of a broader exhibit called "Race: Are We So Different?"  That second exhibit was pretty cool and geared to be eye-opening for younger children especially, but it still has a lot of great information for everyone in general to see.  

Heading into the weekend, I went back to Clarendon to hit up Spider Kelly's and the Clarendon Ballroom.  The Clarendon Ballroom is a really cool club with cheap cover (only $5) and the best part is that it is colder inside than outside, which never happens for clubs.  Spider Kelly's is right next door and has a few billiard tables, shuffle board, and old school video games.  

Saturday morning, I went to Mount Vernon to see George Washington's estate and the Marine Museum in Quantico.  Mount Vernon is huge and the organization that owns the estate also bought up the land on the other side of the Potomac River so that the view from the Washington house is the same now as it was when the Washingtons were living there.

The Marine Museum was really cool.  It was basically a history of the Marine Corps from the Revolutionary War through the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.  It showed how the corps has changed since its early days and all of the different campaigns that the corps has been involved with.  At the end, there is an interactive exhibit about what boot camp is like as well as a target range where you can pay $5 and shoot a laser-equipped M-16 rifle at targets.  They have a computer that prints out your 10 shots and tells you your shooting percentage.  I surprised myself and got an 80% and fired one shot about every 10 seconds - the 80% accuracy is enough to qualify as a Marine sharpshooter.  So I guess I'll have options if this whole law school thing doesn't work out...  After getting back to DC, I went to see the new "Captain America" movie with a bunch of friends from my building.  It was better than expected and we all had a fun time at the Chinatown Theatre.

On Sunday, I slept in and then went back to Georgetown for the afternoon.  After wandering around and window shopping, I discovered a couple really cool design stores - my favorite of all time is CB2.  I think I wanted every single thing in that store in my future dream house/apartment.  For dinner, I went to Pizzeria Paradiso and had an amazing margarita pizza.  On the bus back to my building, I chatted with two tourists from Madrid and Galecia who were trying to find their way to the Capitol Building.  It was great to be able to practice Spanish with them and fun to hear the Spanish accent again.  

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Week One: Summer Internship in the District

After spending a few months back home, I flew back to Washington, D.C. on July 9th in order to start another internship for the summer.  I worked out a much better housing situation this time around (YAY) but since that room didn't open up for another day, I spent the weekend crashing on a friend's couch in Columbia Heights.  It was warm in the spring but July in DC is h-o-t and h-u-m-i-d.  We went out to a bar that night and met up with more people from MSU.  The highlight was the discovery that fried pickles are actually amazing despite how weird it might sound.  The next day, we went over to Chinatown Coffee (a pretty neat place where the cash register is an iPad) to do some work via free wifi then over to the National Portrait Gallery's courtyard to listen to the Roosevelt Institution's budget proposal.  We also went out to Silver Springs, MD to another friend's apartment to chill in the rooftop swimming pool.  That night, we went to a Silver Springs bar called Quarry House Tavern for their Sunday Night team trivia.  It was pretty fun.

Monday, July 11th, was my first day starting the internship on Capitol Hill with my state senator's office.  There were 7 other interns, all college undergraduates.  I was lucky when they assigned us Legislative Assistants (LAs) to work with because I got placed with the one who handles foreign policy and defense issues (among several other topics).  The staff seems nice and we jumped right into exploring the underground tunnels between the buildings of the Capitol complex.  I was able to drop my stuff off at the new housing before going into the office and the location is great - literally right next to Capitol Hill with air conditioning that is constantly set to "blizzard" and already is a dream compared to the place in the spring.  I met some people in my new building and after dinner, we all went over to Eastern Market and ended up at Good Stuff Eatery (the best burger & shake joint in the city - don't worry, I didn't forget that Ben's Chili Bowl is the best burger/dog/chili joint in the city).

Our second day of work kicked off with lots of seminars & orientation in the morning for the Congressional Research Service (CRS).  It's pretty amazing the resources that are available to people on the Hill.  The CRS issues non-partisan reports with good stats and figures on basically every topic ever and if, by some odd chance, there isn't already a report, their professional researchers/know-it-alls will get to work to help you with something good.  After work, I went to meet up with a friend from Spain at this amazing, authentic Spanish restaurant on 14th & Church called Estadio.  For the first time in a year, I was actually able to find my favorite Spanish drink, tinto de verano (it's like sangria, but more amazing) and authentic patatas bravas. And just to add to the place, there is even a huge mural of a shirtless Cristiano Renaldo in the women's bathroom (so this is a place for Madrilistas and not those annoying Barça fans, hahaha) as well as a mural of the 2010 Spanish National World Cup team.  

After work on the following day, I walked with a friend around the Capitol buildings and then all the way down the mall to the memorials and we ended up at the Lincoln Memorial.  We ended up walking about 5 miles from where we started.  Also, H.H. XIV Dalai Lama is in DC right now for the Kalachakra but the student "discount" tickets were about $450 for the week, so unfortunately, no nirvana for me this time.

The week went by pretty quickly and Thursday was there before I knew it.  After checking in with our supervisor, my project partner and I got good feedback that we were on track with our project that's due by Friday of our first week.  I signed up for a ZipCar membership so that my friend and I can get to a Lil Wayne concert, since neither of us have cars here and it's about an hour drive each way.  At least in DC, ZipCar has some really nice options, depending how much you're willing to pay per hour.  We went with the Honda Civic but before the membership expires, I want to try out the Mini Cooper, an Audi A3, and the BMW 328 xi.  

On Friday, July 15th, we finished our memo project 3 minutes before the end of the day, after proof reading and standardizing the formatting for our separate sections.  After work, I went over to Clarendon in Arlington, VA, on the orange line and checked out Liberty Tavern, which is a pretty cool place.  Clarendon in general is pretty awesome.  There are brand new, nice apartments right next to the metro and there are a lot of young people that live there.  The neighborhood is hopping all the time, the nightlife is good, and most importantly, the cost of living is much cheaper because sales tax is only 5%, compared to DC's 10% on everything, including food (jerks).  This is pretty much what Arlington is like:

For the weekend, I went to the Smithsonian Zoo in Adam's Morgan.  The zoo was pretty sweet, although not many of the animals for the Asia exhibits were out.  The zoo only had one tiger, but there were cheetahs that kept coming close as well as komodo dragons, gorillas, orangutans, and double-wattled cassowarys (which I love because of the name).

On Saturday night, my friend and I took the ZipCar we rented earlier in the week to Virginia for the Lil Wayne concert.  We got there just in time to park next to all of the limousines and see Rick Ross finish his opening act.  After the crew took down his set, Lil Wayne came on.  I really didn't listen to any of his music prior to this past week, but who can say no to a GroupOn deal for $10 rap concert tickets?  It was actually a really fun concert and we ended up with seats that were even better than we were expecting.  

On Sunday of my first week back in DC, I went and explored Georgetown.  We first headed over to the Old Stone House, the oldest building still standing in Washington, DC.  Unfortunately, there wasn't a tour, but I was surprised how big the house is on the inside, because it looks so small from the outside.  After the house, we walked down to Georgetown University's campus, which is beautiful, and then to The Tombs bars and the stairs where "The Exorcist" was filmed.  Those stairs were really steep.  To get out of the heat, we went to the AMC theatre by the water to see the final Harry Potter movie, which was pretty great.  After the movie, we headed up the street to Baked & Wired, this really good cupcake place (better than Georgetown Cupcake and with a much shorter line).

Saturday, April 30, 2011

American History and Embassies

On Sunday, April 24th, I met up with my cousin and we drove over to Anacostia to visit Frederick Douglass' home, Ceder Hill. The magnificent house has been preserved in great condition and contains about 80% original items. The house also has a gorgeous view of Washington below, and from the front porch, one can see the Washinton Monument and all of Capitol Hill. After Douglass' death, his second wife and his children fought over the house, due to a lack of witnesses to his will. The house ended up in a public auction, where the wife borrowed enough money from friends in order to buy the house back. She donated it later to the National Parks Service in order to keep Douglass' memory alive.  Frederick Douglass was a boss though - he taught himself to read and play the violin, he was fluent in several languages, loved reading Shakespeare, climbed the Egyptian Pyramids at age 70, was Minister to Haiti, and was a marshal of DC.  He was also a promoter of women's rights, abolition, anti-discrimination and anti-lynching.  He had an extensive library and there were always famous guests visiting the Cedar Hill home including Harriet Tubman, Susan B. Anthony, Ida B. Wells, and Elizabeth Cady-Stanton, just to name a few.

After the tour, my cousin and I headed to the opposite end and over to Wisconsin Avenue in Bethesda, Maryland, to eat a big lunch at another branch of Kabob Bazaar.  After a nice, long lunch, we went to drive back down Massachusetts Avenue to see all of the embassies. Right next to the Turkish embassy (which has a huge statue of Ataturk in the courtyard), there is a really impressive building.  We thought it was an embassy for a Middle Eastern country, but it turned out to be a mosque.  I asked someone if we could look around outside, since we didn't have any hijab, and as we were looking around, someone else asked us if we wanted to look around inside.  I told him that we'd love to but don't have any headscarves on us.  He said that it was no problem and took us to the front office where another person lent us scarves to wear.  The inside was phenomenal.  There were beautiful tiles everywhere and it was just like being inside a Spanish Alcázar.  The tiles on the walls were a gift from the Turkish government in 1969.  We also met a Jewish woman who was visiting the mosque - she said that it was Passover week and she's tired of eating matza balls so she thought she'd see what a mosque was like.

On Monday, April 25, I went to Dupont Circle to meet up with a friend from Spain for lunch.  We grabbed burritos at this really good burrito stand and then went to the circle by the fountain to eat.  It was a beautiful day but I had to work on my essay to get it edited to publish in a journal so we walked back to Johns Hopkins SAIS building and he snuck me into the library so I could use the computers there.  I was so out of school and paper writing mode that it took me over two hours to make a few minor corrections.  I even ended up running into another person I knew in the SAIS library.

After I finished making the changes and emailed the paper along, I went back to the metro and rode out to Arlington National Cemetery.  The cemetery is huge - just gravestones after gravestones.  The grounds are beautiful and the whole place is just quiet and peaceful, which is fitting I suppose since all of those buried there experienced the exact opposite while fighting.  The juxtaposition of such a beautiful, calm place filled with hill after hill of veterans' gravestones really makes visiting the cemetery a deeply emotional experience.  On some of the gravestones, people have placed small stones and rocks which I learned marked the gravestones of Jewish soldiers.  I saw Robert E. Lee's house (it was empty inside due to extensive restorations), the Kennedy's graves (JFK, RFK, and Ted), the eternal flame, and made it to the Tomb of the Unknown Solider in time to see the changing of the guard.

The tomb has the remains of a randomly selected unknown soldier from France (WWII) and the Pacific theatre (WWII), the Korean War, and the Vietnam War.  In the 1980s, the remains were exhumed from the Vietnam soldier's tomb and taken to Walter Reid's pathology lab.  The soldier was identified and his body was move to Missouri according to his family's wishes.  The Vietnam tomb is empty now, but still serves as a reminder.

On April 26, my last day in DC for the spring, I slept in and went back to my organization to eat lunch with the entire office.  The office treated us to a really nice intern appreciation lunch at the nearby District Grill on K and 12th streets, inside the Sheredon Inn hotel.  From lunch, we all walked back to the office and I did a mini exit interview with the COO - I'd never done an exit interview before.  It went really well and I got a good evaluation.  I'm going to miss working with this office a lot.

After saying goodbye to everyone in the office, I went to 14 & U streets to the African American Civil War memorial and museum.  The neighborhood there is sort of like DC's version of New York City's Harlem and there is a lot of really cool history there.  The memorial has the names of 209,145 black soldiers that served in the Union army/military during the Civil War.  All the names are from actual service records in the National Archives.  The names for the Navy is harder to find than the Army because the Navy was already integrated at the time.  The names on the memorial also include over 7,000 Latino surnames.  The museum itself is pretty small but I arrived in time to sit in the museum curator delivering an excellent lecture on African American involvement during the Civil War.  Although African Americans comprised only 1% of the total U.S. population at the time, black soldiers comprised 10% of the Union Army and about 25% of the Union Navy.  The curator also let everyone hold a 151 year old musket that had been donated by a descendant of a black Union soldier.  The musket was a lot heavier than it looked and a soldier at the time was expected to load and fire it three times in one minute during combat.

After the museum, I walked back down U Street past Bohemian Tavern which used to be frequented by Miles Davis, John Coltrane, and Duke Ellington.  There is even a Duke Ellington mural on a building across the street.  I walked all the way over to Malcolm X (Meridian) Park which is one of the prettiest parks that I have been to in DC.  There are so many trees and the row houses surrounding the park along the hill are also really cool.  There is a large tiered waterfall straight down the middle of the park and I spent a fair amount of time just wandering around the park.

After a while, I wandered back down U Street to the infamous Ben's Chili Bowl for a chili cheeseburger and fries.  Ben's Chili Bowl is a black-owned diner that has been around since the 1950s and the only people that are allowed to eat there for free are Bill Cosby and the Obama family.  It reminds me a lot of Yesterdog with the food, decor, and neighborhood.  The food is amazing as well.  From U Street, I went to George Washington University's campus for my last Farsi class of the spring.  After class, I packed everything up, called my cab, and am now ready to go.

Monday, April 25, 2011

April Adventures

Since the last post, April took off with a flying start and was a very busy, final month in DC. One of my friends from New York City came down to DC for the Cherry Blossom Festival. Luckily, there were still enough blossoms outside. We spent the weekend seeing all the different memorials and went to Tidal Basin area twice to see the blossoms. There was also a kite festival taking place on the National Mall by the Washington Monument.

On the final day that we went to Tidal Basin, we stopped by the Jefferson memorial. We happened to be there at the right time on the one not-rainy day that weekend, and there was a group setting up for a wedding. There were two guys with guitars under trees outside waiting for it to start. Because the bride and groom are not supposed to see each other that day until they are at the altar, the wedding party had set a privacy screen and a tiny plastic chair outside for the bride to stay behind until the wedding started.

On Tuesday, April 12, our Farsi conversation class decided to go to the E Street Cinema to catch one of the Iranian films playing in the Film Festival that month. We ended up seeing "Dog Sweat." It was a pretty interesting and well-made film. And definitely better than sitting in a classroom.

That Saturday, the weather was raining again, so I went to the one place that I knew was guaranteed to have good weather - the Botanical Gardens. The rooms there are very cool, especially the Jungle Exhibit. The jungle room has a tropical rain forest in it, and there is a catwalk up above so that you can walk around the perimeter of the exhibit at the canopy level and look down. From the Gardens, I went to walk around the Capitol Building and spent a bit of time in the Library of Congress. Now that I've got my nifty LOC library card, I was able to get inside the Thomas Jefferson main reading room through underground tunnels and get into the room's alcoves. It's pretty much the closest thing to a Beauty and the Beast library that I've seen in real life. I want it.

On Sunday, April 17, I met my cousin and we drove to the National Arboretum. It is so beautiful and there are very nice trails for walking, biking, and driving. There is a bonsai tree museum part that has trees from the late 1800s. There is also what looks like a temple sitting on the grassy hill. Those columns are actually from the portico of the Capitol Building that was taken down in 1958 in order to make the expansions on the building. The reflecting pool in front of the columns in the National Arboretum is made of marble taken from the old wall of the Senate wing of the Capitol Building when renovations were being made.After spending some time both walking and driving around the National Arboretum, we made our way over to Annapolis, Maryland. We crossed the 5 mile long Bay Bridge over the Chesapeake Bay to get a view of the water and then turned around and headed straight into downtown Annapolis. Our first stop was a quaint ice cream shop downtown by the marina and Naval Academy. We walked around the marina area for a little bit and found a statue of Alex Haley, author of Roots.
We then walked into the US Naval Academy (USNA) and strolled around the campus. We walked around past the really nice houses that are homes to the families of the Deans of the USNA. Past this area, the USNA has a gorgeous chapel and a huge courtyard that has a statue of the figurehead of the USS Delaware.
The USS Delaware was one of the first ships that the US Navy built. It was scuttled by Union troops during the Civil War to prevent the Confederate Army from using it. When the Union soldiers returned to the wreckage, they found that the ship's wooden figurehead had survived completely intact. The bronze cast statue of the figurehead is now a good luck symbol for students come exam time.On our way out of Annapolis, we passed St. Johns College. It was originally named King William's School, founded in 1696 in the Maryland colony, and officially chartered in 1784. It is obvious that the area surrounding this school is pretty old itself by the architectural styles of the houses and the narrow streets. We also passed the Maryland state capitol building, which apparently is pretty cool. If I get a chance to go back to Annapolis, then I will have to make sure to visit these places.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Last Spring Days in the District

interior of the Old Post Office
With my internship coming to an end, I spent the last few weeks catching up on things I wanted to see and taking family to some sites. When some relatives came to visit in the last week of April, our first stop was the Old Post Office on Pennsylvania Avenue. We went up the bell tower and saw the bells (made to be in tune to the bells at Westminster Abby) and went to the top for a 360 degree view of the city. After the Post Office, we walked over to Archives to look at the Declaration of Independence, Constitution, and Bill of Rights. From here, we went to Good Stuff Eatery over in Eastern Market by the Hill for lunch. Our next stop was a tour through a congressional office of Capitol Hill.
The tour kicked off with a stop to the Capitol Visitors Center (CVC) where there is a replica of the statue above the rotunda. The statue dominates the interior of the CVC. After the video, we went through the tunnels connecting all of Capitol Hill and right past the underground shuttle that the representatives use to get to the floors for voting when they are in session. The Capitol Building was also home to the first location of the US Supreme Court before it moved to the present location. We also made stops at the old House and Senate floors before being granted passes to the present galleries.
There are statues throughout the hallways of the Capitol Building. Each state chooses two statues. The area in the rotunda is reserved for statues of presidents, with the exception of one unfinished statue depicting the unfinished struggle for women's rights and another of Martin Luther King, Jr. There are also several paintings and a mural in the rotunda. The paintings along the lower level were all made by the same artist who painted himself into every historical scene as either a man looking in the opposite direction of every other character or with his face on a woman's body. The mural going around the upper level of the rotunda appears as if it is 3D but in fact is just a flat painting. Approximately 70% of it was painted by an elderly artist, until he slipped on scaffolding and was hanging by his arms for 15 minutes before being rescued. Two other artists completed the mural.
Our next stop was over to Johnny's Half Shell restaurant for dinner. After some delicious seafood, we cabbed it over to the Lincoln and Vietnam memorials. My younger cousins were especially impressed with the Lincoln Memorial, dramatically reading the Gettysburg Address over and over.
The next day, we visited the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum as well as the Smithsonian Natural History Museum. We spent most of the day looking at the outer space, 1950s passenger plane, ocean, dinosaur, and weather exhibits. After a break from the museums, we went to Adams Morgan for dinner at Lebanese Taverna. We all enjoyed the delicious mezze dishes (sort of like tapas - basically, platters of food for everyone to share) along with a fantastic dessert. I will definitely be going there again.
On my relatives' last day in DC, we went to Ford's Theatre, the theatere where Abraham Lincoln was shot. Despite being closed for years and converted into an office building after the assasination, the theatre is now operated by the National Parks Service and has been fully restored. It still puts on plays in honor of Lincoln's appreciation of theatre and the arts. Peterson House, across the street from the theatre and the place where Lincoln died, is currently being rennovated so it was closed when we visited. After the theatre tour, we walked over to the Museum of American History to see the original Star Spangled Banner and several other exhibits.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Kicking Off April

To kick off April, I met up with some friends and we took a mini-roadtrip out to Reston, VA, to visit Jackson's Restaurant, while another friend was working. The restaurant's food and drinks were amazing. After spending a while in Jackson's eating and waiting for our friend to finish his shift, we walked around Reston until we arrived at another local restaurant - Clyde's.

On Saturday, I took a trip to the Library of Congress to get my library card. Library cards are required in order to access different reading rooms in the Library of Congress' various buildings, including the main reading room in the Thomas Jefferson building. Since it was raining pretty heavily, I got some research done on ancient computers in the law reading room in the James Madison building (aw yeah, James Madison!).

After spending some time at the Library of Congress, I met my cousin at Union Station and we headed over into Eastern Market neighborhood for a quick dinner. We went to Good Stuff Eatery, a fun burger restaurant with fresh, cheap food and two burgers named after the Obamas. The restaurant also features weekday lunchtime specials of a burger, fries, and drink for $10. The food was some real good stuff and it is located right next to Capitol Hill.

We then went to Gallaudet University, federally established in 1864 for deaf and hard of hearing students. We had tickets to the University's annual dance show featuring the Gallaudet Dance Company. The dancers were from very diverse backgrounds and skill levels, but the show was amazing from beginning to end. Although the dancers spent a year preparing the numbers, they made the performances seem so smooth and effortless. After the show was over, we went to Dubliner Pub by Union Station, a small pub with pretty decent food and guitar music.

Sunday was Sizdah Bedar, so in keeping with tradition, I returned to the nearest park with running water - the Titanic memorial by the Potomac riverfront and tossed the plate of sabzeh into the river. The water wasn't really moving that day, so hopefully the sprouts have gotten somewhere by now.

Afterward, I headed over the National Aquarium, hoping to see some cool exhibits. The aquarium was really small, but it did have a fair collection of species considering the size. A few of the exhibits included freshwater fish that have been featured on Animal Planet's show, River Monsters with Jeremy Wade, specifically the Gar and American Snakehead fish. On my list of places to see (now that the weather is getting nicer) are the Smithsonian National Zoo and the Cherry Blossom festival.

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Cosmopolitan Cobra

Apparently, this adventurous cobra has been found chilling in a corner of the Reptile House in the Bronx Zoo. But, by the tweets that the BronxZoosCobra posted on its Twitter, it sounds like the snake had a good time out on the town.

Some of the BronxZoosCobra's highlights are as followsss:
Does anyone know if the Whole Foods in Columbus Circle sells organic mice?

"Indiana Jones, why did it have to be Indiana Jones?"

"Give me your tired, your poor/Your coiled masses yearning to breathe free" Powerful words at the Statue of Liberty. #snakeonthetown

Getting my morning coffee at the Mudtruck. Don't even talk to me until I've had my morning coffee. Seriously, don't. I'm venomous.

City may not sleep, but I'm ready to. Ooh a chimney! I bet you bragged to your friends about having a working fireplace in NYC. Hi roomie.

Not a fan of G.I. Joe.

Anyone know of a good vegan restaurant near Union Square? #snakeonthetown
This was totally worth an entire blogpost.

Noruz and Early Spring in the District

In the weeks since I last wrote, lots has been happening. On the work side, we were extremely busy with nationwide community service projects and hosting large conference featuring some pretty influential speakers. We are now gearing up for more events, and I am busy as ever writing articles, figuring out placement for the summer, as well as housing for the summer and fall. Through friends, I started taking a small, conversation-based Farsi class. It is really good to be practicing speaking again, as I haven't had much of an opportunity since graduating in December. The class moves quickly, and it's pretty impressive how good some of the American students are with the language.

Noruz, Persian New Year celebrated on the vernal equinox annually, was on March 20th this year. It is now the year 1390. Part of Noruz traditions involves gathering with family to celebrate, but this year, since I am on the coast, my family was fortunate enough to visit me. We spent the time going to several DC attractions including the Air & Space Museum, American Indian Museum, Botanical Gardens, Library of Congress, and the Vietnam, World War II and Lincoln memorials. We
also visited the Shahnameh exhibit at the Sackler Gallery, Moby Dick House of Kabob, and Maz Jobrani’s comedy show, to add a Persian flare to the DC experience. The Sackler also had a Noruz special for the community where I had the chance to play some backgammon.
Listen to Maz Jobrani on NPR:
For Noruz, we went back to Kabob Bazaar in Arlington for their special buffet of traditional foods and all the rice one could ever eat. It was amazing, to say the least. After dropping my family off at the airport, I spent the rest of that day walking around Georgetown.
Since everything closes early in DC, if I am looking for something cheap to do afterward, I usually head over to the local Barnes and Noble bookstore. I finished To Kill a Mockingbird, a book that I had always wanted to read but had not yet done so until now. I have moved onto a book called The White Tiger by Aravind Adiga. After only the first chapter, I am hooked.
The weather has started to get warmer and cherry blossoms and magnolia trees are flowering everywhere. The Cherry Blossom Festival will begin in April, and I have some friends coming into DC just to see it. The waterfront area of the southwest side is also very pleasant to walk around, and I wandered there this past weekend. In exploring the area along the river, I saw a random sign for a Titanic memorial. After following the sidewalk along the marina, I found it. It's nice to know that Washington, DC decided to immortalize Leonardo DiCaprio in a monument somewhere. And I think I found the place to throw my sabzi into the river on Sizdah Bedar...

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Book List

I have been keeping lists of books to read and to buy in so many different places, that I figured I ought to consolidate all such lists here. As you can see, I keep finding interesting books faster than I can read. If you have any recommendations that I should add to my list, please post them in the comments section below!

Books to Buy
  1. ANYTHING ever written by Kurt Vonnegut, Jr.
  2. ANYTHING ever written by Richard Wright
  3. The Little Prince in every language that I can read (so I just need it in Farsi now)
  4. Shahnameh by Ferdosi (in English, Farsi, and Comic Book)
  5. Orientalism by Edward Said
  6. Imperial Eyes: Studies in Travel Writing and Transculturation by Mary Louise Pratt
  7. Power Plays Power Works by John Fiske
  8. Out of Place: a Memoir by Edward Said
  9. Power, Politics, and Culture by Edward Said
  10. Imagined Communities: Reflections on the Origin and Spread of Nationalism by Benedict Anderson
  11. Of Cigarettes, High Heels, and Other Interesting Things by Marcel Danesi
  12. Modern Iranian Political Thought by Nikki Keddi
  13. The Brief, Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz
  14. Iran's Intellectual Revolution by Mehran Kamrava

Books to Read
  1. The Sonderberg Case by Elie Wiesel
  2. The False Friend by Myla Goldberg
  3. The Gendarme by Mark T. Mustian
  4. The Califs of Baghdad, Georgia by Mary Helen Stefaniar
  5. Saving Max by Antionette van Heugten
  6. Luka and the Fire of Life ­by Salman Rushdie
  7. The Hawk and the Dove by Nicholas Thompson
  8. Offside by Manuel Vazquez Montalban
  9. In the Land of Ayatollahs, Tupac Shakur is King by Shahzad Aziz
  10. Knock ‘em Stiff by Donald Ray Pollock
  11. Crooked Little View by Warren Ellis
  12. Ahab’s Wife by Sena Jeter Naslund
  13. Where the Line Bleeds by Jesmyn Ward
  14. The Wackness by Dale C. Phillips
  15. Lowboy by John Wray
  16. Lottery by Patricia Wood
  17. The Feast of the Goat by Mario Vargas Llosa
  18. The Dictator's Seduction: Politics and Popular Imagination in the Era of Trujillo by Lauren Derby
  19. The Caliphs of Baghdad, Georgia – Mary Helen Stefaniak
  20. Vonnegut Novels and Short Stories 1953-1971 – Kurt Vonnegut
  21. Destiny Disrupted – Tamim Ansary
  22. Decent into Chaos – Ahmen Rashid
  23. I am Nujood, Age 10 and Divorced – Nujood Ali
  24. Her Fearful Symmetry – Audrey Niffenegger
  25. What the Dog Saw and Other Adventures – Malcolm Gladwell
  26. The Marriage Bureau for Rich People – Farahad Zama
  27. Conversation in the Cathedral – Mario Vargas Llosa
  28. Drown – Junot Diaz
  29. Manhunt the 12 Day Chase for Lincoln’s Killer – James L. Swanson
  30. Trickster: Native American Tales, a Graphic Collection
  31. A Woman Among Warlords – Malalai Joya
  32. A People’s History of American Empire – Howard Zinn
  33. Footnotes in Gaza – Joe Sacco
  34. Welcome to the Terrordome: The Pain, Politics, and Promise of Sports – Dave Zirin
  35. Rap The Anthology – edited by Adam Bradley and Andrew DuBois
  36. Hip Hop Underground – Anthony Harrison
  37. How the Irish Saved Civilization – Thomas Cahill
  38. Soccernomics – Simon Kuper and Stefan Szymanski
  39. The Black Swan – Nassim Nicholas Taleb
  40. 5 Very Good Reasons to Punch a Dolphin in the Mouth (and Other Useful Guides)
  41. The Song of Kahunsha – Anosh Irani
  42. Cinemas of the Other: a personal journey with film-makers from the Middle East and Central Asia – Gonul Donmez-Colin
  43. The Mitsitam Café Cookbook – Richard Hetzler
  44. The Dressmaker of Khair Khana – Gayle Tzemach Lemmon
  45. The Line – Olga Grushin
  46. The Angel’s Game – Carlos Ruiz Zafon
  47. Unaccustomed Earth – Jhumpa Lahiri
  48. Water for Elephants – Sara Gruen
  49. Netherland – Joseph O’Neill
  50. Shades of Grey – Jasper Fforde
  51. The Drinker – Hans Fallada
  52. Little Man, What Now? – Hans Fallada
  53. Every Man Dies Alone – Hans Fallada
  54. Wolf Among Wolves – Hans Fallada
  55. Arabesque: A Taste of Morocco, Turkey, & Lebanon – Claudia Roden
  56. Made in Spain: Spanish Dishes for the American Kitchen – Jose Andres with Richard Wolffe
  57. A Quiet Revolution: the Veil’s Resurgence, from the Middle East to America – Leila Ahmed
  58. What is the What – Dave Eggers
  59. In Other Rooms, Other Wonders – Daniyal Mueenuddin
  60. The Elephant’s Journey – Jose Saramago
  61. Shah of Shahs - Ryszard Kapuscinski
  62. A Single Roll of the Dice - Trita Parsi
  63. Inside the Kingdom: Kings, Clerics, Modernists, Terrorists, and the Struggle for Saudi Arabia - Robert Lacey
  64. Reset: Iran, Turkey, and America's Future - Stephen Kinzer
  65. Open City - Teju Cole
  66. The Dictator's Handbook: Why Bad Behavior is Almost Always Good Politics - Bruce Bueno de Mesquita

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Film Festival Finales

Last week was the end of two film festivals in DC that I have been attending and blogging about. On Thursday, February 24, the North African Film Festival series came to an end and saved its best (and most timely film) for the night: Rachid Bouchareb’s masterpiece Outside the Law. In French and Arabic, it is a fantastically done film about three [fictional] Algerian brothers and their involvement in the Algerian independence movement both in Algeria and in France. A good film by any standard, it was nominated for the Acadamy Award for Best Foreign Language film this year. Although the discussion following the film was not as good as previous events, the film was one of the best that I have seen recently, and I would highly recommend it.
On Sunday, the Sackler-Freer galleries concluded their 2011 Iranian film festival with three documentaries played consecutively. The first, All Restrictions End, is an unconventional examination of the intersections between fashion and history. Although well done and examining history dating back to the Qajar dynasty, I felt as though the viewer needed a more advanced understanding of Persian literary construction and cultural base that I just didn’t have to really appreciate the film. The second film was We are Half of Iran’s Population, a film featuring several Iranian women’s rights activists filming their questions to the 2009 Iranian presidential candidates and then having three of the candidates watch and respond to them. The film was interesting, as were the reactions of the candidates present. The final film, Pearls on the Ocean Floor, is directed by an American and features Iranian female artists both in Iran and in the global diaspora. Each artist had a unique perspective on what it means to be an Iranian woman, especially one’s placement in the diaspora and connection to Iran.

After viewing all three documentaries, I joined family and friends at a Mexican-Cuban restaurant in the Eastern Market neighborhood called Banana Café. The food was excellent and the portions were large. Dinner also included unlimited tortilla chips and salsa, so no complaints there. It’s not too far from where I currently live so I will definitely have to return.
March will be a busy month, both at work and with all of the local DC events. I can’t believe I am already entering my second month in the city. Between projects at work, community service events, and Noruz (Persian New Year) festivities, the month is sure to pass quickly.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Seguna Semana y Tiempo Libre

Although I had a good first week at the internship, the second week was even better and significantly busier. The week revolved around going to four conferences, working on articles, and researching community service projects. Despite the small office, my acronym-association really does some pretty cool and important things on both the local and national levels. I’m glad to be working there and contributing in some small, intern kind of way. The work in my first two weeks makes me confident that I chose this internship over being a research assistant at a different internship I was offered.

I also took advantage of some cool DC events. On Thursday night, I went to the film selected for the Museum of African Art’s North African Film Festival. The film selected was Raja, by a French director and set in Marrakech, Morocco. At the event, I ran into someone who stayed at the same hostel in Marrakech that I did, but a few months earlier! What a small world. The film was…interesting. Dr. Valerie Orlando from the University of Maryland facilitated a thought-provoking discussion with the audience that revolved around Orientalism, who controlled the discourse in the film (and the sociopolitical context in which the film takes place), power, and agency. In addition to hosting an excellent event, the North African Film Festival gave the audience members stickers, flyers, and movie-sized boxes of candy for free. And free is like gold to interns.
Once Saturday rolled around, I went back to the National Mall and took some time to enjoy the beautiful spring weather. I stopped by the Smithsonian Castle, which was an eclectic mix of small exhibits that showcased some of the artifacts in the larger Smithsonian collection as well as history of the institution itself. The castle is cool on the outside, but a bit weird on the inside, considering that a sarcophagus containing the founder’s remains is the first thing past the front doors. After the castle, I went to the Hirshhorn’s outdoor sculpture garden. There are exhibits indoors, but I haven’t had a chance to go there yet.
After the outdoor exhibits, I went to the National Archives. The Archives are not actually part of the Smithsonian Institution, despite being surrounded by them, and is actually run by the U.S. government. I feel like the people in charge of security for the National Archives really took National Treasure seriously, because I have never been in a museum with security on par with an airport. It was really cool to see the actual Constitution (flanked by security guards) and Declaration of Independence, in addition to an amazing Civil War exhibit. I decided not to be a complete tourist so I didn’t buy the replica Declaration for the bargain price of $2.95, but I might have to go back. In other interesting souvenir news, apparently interns and staffers have to run flags up and down the flagpoles at the Capital building and these flags are available for purchase, marketed as “flags flown over the Capital.” As an intern myself, I feel like I could appreciate the story behind such a flag and really empathize with that intern.
I still had a little time to lose after all the museums closed and before meeting friends, so I went back to the favorite Barnes & Noble to finish that Kurt Vonnegut book. Of course, all the stories are excellent, but these are my personal favorites from this collection: “Tango,” “With His Hand on the Throttle,” “Ruth,” and “Out, Brief Candle.”
After finishing the Vonnegut book, I went over to Dupont Circle to meet some MSU people at Kramerbooks. Kramerbooks is a combination between a bookstore (with a pretty good selection), café, and bar/restaurant. The desserts are famous, so another trip is in order soon. In addition to dessert at Kramerbooks, a visit up the Washington Monument and the National Museum of African Art are on my list for next weekend.

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