Monday, May 30, 2011

Memorial Day Weekend Part 2

After the hectic move-in on Saturday, we took a much deserved (if I may say so) lazy Sunday which included some browsing on M street and an evening run. We picked up a few supplies at one of my favorite stores, Paper Source, in order to create PA door decorations so the students will know where we live.

We spent much of this Monday watching or en route to the Memorial Day parade. TFAS scored some VIP seats in a viewing box which they happily handed over to the PAs. The viewing stand belonged to the organizers of the parade, the American Veterans Center, and included many current and retired military personnel as well as the parade marshals, Pat Sajak (Wheel of Fortune host) and Gary Sinise (Det. Mac Taylor of CSI: NY). We felt especially lucky to be out of the sun, but unfortunately, we were unable to escape the heat.

The parade was a wonderful demonstration of patriotism. The soldiers appeared like royalty in their neat, pressed uniforms of various decorums; golds medals and tassels shining bright in the afternoon sun. I felt like an outsider peering into the window of some inner sanctum as generations of soldiers exchanged salutes as they moved past in choreographed precession.

The announcer reminded the crowd that the Memorial Day parade was not established until 2005, a fact that seemed inconsistent with all of the pomp and circumstance which now characterized the festivities. It is a wonder how our own nation's capital could exist without such an event for so long.

When the parade concluded, we escaped the heat inside of tangysweet and treated ourselves to frozen yogurt.

Tomorrow brings a short work week culminating in the arrival of the students on Sunday. Can't wait! It should prove to be busy.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Memorial Day Weekend Part 1

We got an early start to Memorial Day weekend when we got off at 3pm on Friday. Lauren, Sarah and I took the metro straight to Union Station. As we made reservations at the Capitol Grill, we realized that the Postal Museum was next door (and open for another hour and a half). The museum is probably overlooked by most tourists as it is far from the other museums, but I recommend it for a quick stop. The building used to be the post office for DC, but was replaced by a newer building in the 80s.

Granted, the museum does hype some of the stuff inside (like the section on mail security), but it had plenty of hands-on stuff for small children and a large collection of stamps that are quite beautiful. There is even a post-office attached to the museum~how cool!

The museum evoked some poignant emotions as I contemplated the glorious history of print mail. An industry that once occupied a highly respected place in our nation is now a dying art. While the stamps almost inspired me to become a stamp collector, they did prompt me to send some postcards.

After browsing the museum, we reverted back to our original plan and made our way into Union Station. Among other stops, we checked out ShoeWoo and bought two pieces of Belgium chocolate at Neuhaus Chocolatier. Delicious!! Find out more about Union Station at

The Capitol Grill was a great Friday evening dinner because of the relaxed atmosphere; we could really kick-back after our first week. Instead of bread, they bring soft pretzels before dinner and a bold, horseradish mustard. Sarah tried one of the many beers that they brew on site.

On the walk home from the metro, Lauren and I stopped for coffee at pound, our favorite coffee place by far (so far). We sat in comfy chairs by the window and chatted. We sure will miss that place now that we are in Georgetown, but we made a pact to stop there on weekends when we visit Eastern Market.

The next morning we perused Eastern Market before our cabs arrived for move-out. We had crepes for breakfast at the crepe stand. I ordered ham, apple, maple and muenster and Lauren chose peaches and sweet cream. We also purchased handmade, vintage headbands from a mother-daughter team from South Carolina, Treats for Tresses.

There were so many neat crafts and delicious foods to choose from. It will definitely be a recurring stop for us in the weeks to come!

Then came the terrible, the dreadful, the absolutely awful move-out.

Okay, I'm exaggerating a bit. We actually lucked out considering that the all-day rain that they called for, never did show. BUT, trying to cram all of your belongings into a cab on a busy street and then unpacking those same items 15 minutes later, up a large flight of a stairs and through the windings paths of Henle Village is not my idea of a great time. On the bright side, TFAS paid for our cab rides which totaled over $80. (!!)

After move-in, we were too exhausted to even think about cooking dinner, so we ventured to M Street for dinner at Mr. Smith's, know for their burgers which they serve on long buns.

All of that excitement made us very happy to see our beds that night!

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Enjoying this Time in Capitol Hill

I scurried out of work yesterday and met up with Ian for dinner at Matchbox, a restuarant that Dana had recommended. I was shocked to learn that he had never ventured to the Eastern Market neighborhood and I know he was definitely regretting that decision after he discovered how fun it was.

Happily, there was still some daylight left when Ian departed and I was able to take a quick run around the neighborhood. I'm amazed how little traffic there is once the commuters find their way out of the city. In that way, DC doesn't fit the stereotypical image of a city: constantly bustling 24/7.

After a shower, my roommates and I kept good on our promise to get coffee together that night. We chose a place named pound, just down from us on Conneticut. Lauren and Sarah each tried a nutella latte (Lauren iced and Sarah hot) which Lauren described as "adult chocolate milk." I ordered a horchata which was a delicious and very refreshing drink made from rice and milk, served on ice with cinnamon. I recalled Oscar's daughters ordering something similar when they treated us to dinner several months ago. My mother and I were so intrigued by the drink, that I just had to try it. It was a wonderful choice as I settled in for the night.

The coffee shop had a great atmosphere. The employees were all hanging around, competing to determine who could create the best design with the cappuccino foam. After placing our votes, we sipped on our drinks in the courtyard and then called it a night.

Today, we celebrated Dana's birthday with lunch at Lauriol Plaza, a Mexican restaurant. The food was great and so was the company! Back at the office, we have begun printing some of the materials for the students' registration packets; the printers are getting quite a workout.

Speaking of workout, I think I'll invest in a fitness ball of some sort to sit on at my desk because I'm getting really tired of my desk chair. I fidget far too much and like to make trips down the stairs to Kristen's office just for an excuse to move around.

The day ended with a soccer game near the Potomac. Kristen and Hailey invited me to play on their team. We lost terribly, but it was a good time. Over the season, they've recruited several players in some unusual ways including a cab driver, Muhammad, who was looking to join a team and take a break from his long route between Baltimore and DC.

I've really appreciated the welcome that my co-workers have given me and the other PAs. Inviting us to join in their game exemplifies their kindness.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Less Work=More Play

I arrived at work today to emails from some of my students; how exciting!! Given all the work they have been putting into this program, the staff are getting really excited to meet the students. I too am starting to get this feeling after working on the student biographies.

All of our hard work earned us a shorter work day; we got to leave at 4PM. We put the spare time to good use and got burgers and shakes at Good Stuff Eatery, Spike Mendelsohn's restaurant in Capitol Hill. ((He was a contestant on Top Chef Chicago)) This is the same place where I dragged poor Sara last summer. While we waited for our milkshakes, we chatted up one of the employees as to where Spike might be. He even called Spike in an attempt to locate him. He said that he loves to give autographs and photos and all I could think about was how cool a photo would be for my blog!! Fingers crossed. There is still plenty of summer left.
Check it out at highly recommend the milkshakes. Delish!

After early dinner, we made our way to the Capitol and along the Mall where some guys invited us to play frisbee. We figured that we should enjoy the last remnants of the cool(ish) weather before the summer heat settles in. One of the guys was a native who joked about how mundane the buildings seem to him after years of passing them. Right now I can't imagine that feeling. The buildings still captivate me. They are-- as Lauren and I commented yesterday--quite majestic, especially in the right light.

I'm thinking of checking out the bookstore down the street this weekend for some cheesy mystery novels set in DC. I think they would be super fun to read this summer while I'm living here, in and around the sights. Any suggestions?

The girls and I are also on the hunt for some cake balls. I had never heard of these curious specimens until a few weeks ago when Michael mentioned them. They sound delicious, but I've yet to find a place in DC (besides Starbucks) that really specializes in them. When I find them, I think I'd like to bring some in for the whole office. We are an office of nearly all women, so you can imagine that sweet treats would go over BIG TIME.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Why the Scenery Makes All the Difference

Everything seems better when it's cast in light of great scenery. Commuting, working, running, you name it, I guarantee it's easier when you do it in a place that entrances you.

Indeed, I had this experience today. I find myself continually mesmerized by DC sights and sounds. Walking to work is fun when you have beautiful architecture to examine and a 20 minute run flies by (although still not quite fast enough) when you cross paths with 50 other runners.

Guess it's safe to say that I am enjoying myself thus far.

Today was long. Our commute is around 45 minutes from door to door, but luckily it will shorten tremendously when we move into Georgetown. The day was full of orientation to the office and our responsibilities as PAs. Fortunately, we happened to arrive on a day of celebration: the entire staff gathered for Chick-fil-A lunch. Yum!

It really is a great work environment. Everyone was very friendly and welcoming. They strike a great balance between having fun and completing some serious work. I get the feeling that both are in store for me this summer. I'll admit, that two-week task list is pretty intimidating, but like Toby always says: one spaghetti noodle at a time.

Ok well, with a full day ahead of me, I'm off to bed.

One final lesson from today: don't forget the caffeine. Boy was I drowsy around 3PM. I think I'll remedy by bringing in my box of English tea for the office. Too bad I can't bring Mrs. Drake along as well. She sure does make a mean cup of tea. ;)

Sunday, May 22, 2011

TFAS Summer Part II: "I thought DC was laid on a grid!"

This phrase came out of my mother's mouth as we passed Park Cafe for the third time today, trying desperately to make our way to the my apartment on 6th Street. That's right. I'm baaaaack!

After completing the TFAS program last summer, I have been hired to work this summer as a Program Advisor (PA). Today I moved into my ((temporary)) apartment near Eastern Market and tomorrow, I will begin work at the TFAS office preparing for the students' arrival in June.

My Mom and I set off for DC this morning. A big thanks Mom, for driving me down. I know city driving is not fun--it included lots of stoplights, parallel & double parking, hazard lights, near Titanic-like collisions and general frustration. After stocking our fridge and snapping a photo of us on the stairs, Mom took off and left the three of us to fend for ourselves.

Let me stop there and provide you with some foundational information to help you make your way through this blog.

I have two roommates who are also working as PAs: Lauren Goldberg and Sarah Howard. However, there are six PAs in total. The other three are living together in a separate apartment (for now). Next weekend, we will be moving once again into Henle Village at Georgetown University. As you may remember, these are the same apartments that I lived in last summer as a student in the program. Unfortunately (or perhaps fortunately), the apartments were not available yet so for now, we scored an awesome apartment near Eastern Market.

Our summer will be filled with work in the office from 8:30-5:30 from M-F and frequent evening and weekend events once the students arrive. We also function similar to RAs so we need to be on campus and available for assistance.

As if this weren't enough to keep us busy, we have also set a few other goals for ourselves.

1. Sightsee! The sights are never ending.
2. Blog so we can remember all of these cool things.
3. Interview, network and schmooze This may be more important for Sarah and Lauren as they are looking for jobs for the Fall, but it never hurt.
4. Take photos especially with our new buddies--crocheted octopi that we purchased at Eastern Market today: O-man, Oscar (aka-Little Nugget) and Ottie
5. Taste test cupcakes to decide once and for all whose are the best.

I'll also post about our eating adventures in a separate section. Tonight: I returned to Montmarte, a French restaurant that Michael and I dined for brunch last summer, but this time we stopped for dessert. We sat outside, as the weather is lovely-warm and breezy; however, I suspect this weather is short-lived and will soon be traded in for unbearable heat and mugginess (joy!).

Full day of work tomorrow. Talk to you soon!

P.S.-The photos will likely be all Lauren's.