Paul Rudd, Reese, and Mr. Nicholson in D.C.!??!

There’s a rumor circulating D.C. that they’re filming a Paul Rudd movie in town. Tonight, that rumor was confirmed! After celebrating Chris’ birthday for dinner, we literally walked right into a set on 15th and H Street. There were cameras, lights, extras…So we waited around for some sign of Paul Rudd, Jack Nicholson, and Reese Witherspoon.



Okay, so that’s not really them, but they’re convincing enough!! Sadly, we didn’t get to see anyone famous except for some SAG actors, but that’s all right. We have three weeks until they finish filming in D.C., three weeks to track them down!

We had dinner at The Old Ebbitt House, famous for feeding presidents in the past. Although the reputation is presidential, the prices are not! The food was very reasonably priced and the service amazing. Our waitress had a great sense of humor, and our tables were in the middle of what seemed like a hotel courtyard. Dim lighting, crab cakes, clam chowder, and atmosphere.



My First Official Day of Work

Fellow interns and staff
There are three other interns (Tiffany, Cynthia, and Adriana) in Loretta’s office, and they’re all from southern California too! Two of them are Cal-State Fullerton students, while one found the internship through the Hispanic American Caucus. They’re all very nice and were so helpful to me on my first day, since they’ve all been here for three weeks.

Sorting mail, stuffing envelopes, phone calls
It sounds less interesting than it actually is! Through sorting the mail, I got to read through some of the letters and faxes that constituents send. You learn that there are people who genuinely care about health care, energy, gas taxes, and even gun bans enough to share their personal stories why they support or oppose certain legislation. However, you also learn that there are people who have no idea who their Congressman is and will fax everyone up the wazoo to either get attention or hope for a response. I saw hand-written faxes that called laws and politicians “evil” and such.

Tours of the Capitol building
Eventually I’ll be trained to give tours of the Capitol building so I can give tours to constituents who wish to visit. Can’t wait!

Tunnels
There are three main buildings in which representatives have their offices: Cannon, Longworth, and Rayburn. I work in Longworth. The coolest part about all these is that they’re connected by a series of tunnels underground. So on my lunch break, I walked over to Cannon to visit Nabila in Congressman Sablan’s office.

Debate on the “cap-and-trade” bill (a.k.a. HR 2454)
On my first day, my supervisor Ajay let me go to the House floor to watch a debate on the cap-and-trade bill that was to be voted on (it passed at a narrow vote of 219 to 212). Our office had C-Span on all day while the debates were going on. Washington, D.C. is a Hollywood for politicians. Instead of a stage, they walk onto the floor. People watching the debates will yell at the television screen and throw out their commentary or their jeers. Being a politician comes with a little bit of celebrity, I realized. That’s just my two cents. I don’t know whether I like that or not.



I doubt I was supposed to be taking these pictures, but oh well! 🙂 I’ll come up with a V-log sometime soon about my commute to work and such so you can hop the Metro with me and head to downtown D.C.!

I miss you all! Thank you for following me here! I am thinking of all of you constantly. 🙂

Monumental

I was in the portrait gallery of the Smithsonian Museum of American Art when I received the news that Michael Jackson had passed. The best part? My mom was the one that told me. Through text message. R.I.P. the King of Pop. All around D.C. you could hear his music being played in tribute.

Today’s adventures:

1. The National Geographic Museum

It’s much smaller than it sounds. There were only two exhibits. One on leopards and other wild felines and another on Kodak color film. Both were very cool. The latter was an exhibit of photos taken as early as the 1940s all around Europe, remastered in technicolor. I like looking at the clothes that people used to wear, mostly because I like to think I’m a little old fashioned and try to liken my wardrobe toward more vintage tastes when I can.


2. The Smithsonian Museum of American Art

Mylene and I came across this by accident while searching for Chinatown. Since we didn’t feel like continuing farther, we went inside and checked out a bunch of portraits. I now know what Ansel Adams actually looked like. There were portraits of generals from the Civil War too. Ulysses S. Grant was a fierce, stoic looking man. In the other wing, there was an exhibit of art from the Depression.

Smithsonian Museum of American Art

Portrait Gallery

Ansel Adams

Arrest warrant for Boothe

courtyard


3. Ben’s Chili Bowl in Chinatown

This place is a landmark restaurant in D.C. not only because it is one of the oldest stops, but it’s also known for its reasonably priced menu of chili dogs, chili burgers, half smokes, chili fries (what I ordered), and more. During the riots in 1968, protesters and police frequented it. A lot of celebrities such as Bill Cosby, Chris Tucker, Denzel Washington, and even Obama himself have stopped by at some point. For the second half of our time there, they played non-stop Michael Jackson songs.

4. Lincoln Memorial
Note to self: Do NOT attempt walking from the Washington Monument to the Lincoln Memorial at night. It is humid, tiring, and far! When you’re in good company, though, it’s not so bad. We cut across the lawn in front of the monument to get there faster, but it still took forever. By the time we got to the steps, we were all sweaty. Lincoln is huge. I don’t think I even measure up to his knee, to give you a scale. The view from the top of the steps is beautiful. You can see the reflecting pool, the monument, and the Capitol right in front of you. D.C. truly is a beautiful city. An historic one as well.






Random

Old U.S. Post office

D.C.’s best coffee (so far)

Typical street in D.C.

Foggy Bottom/GWU Station

Tomorrow Chris, a fellow Anteater, is celebrating his 21st birthday in D.C., and we’re going to a restaurant called The House Ebbot (?) to eat for dinner.

Other things I want to do this weekend:

  • Watch Night at the Museum IN the Smithsonian (free showing!!)
  • Visit the Ford Theater where Lincoln was assassinated
  • Get lost in one of the Smithsonians
  • Go shopping in Georgetown
  • Laundry

Movies that take place in D.C.

  • Burn After Reading
  • Wedding Crashers
  • Mars Attacks
  • Forrest Gump (partially)

As always, I miss you guys and wish you could be seeing all of this with me.

Dupont Circle


These past few days, I’ve been a bit of a hermit. Homesickness was one reason. Timing was another. I’ve wanted to hang out with people who have gone out on the town, but I never seemed to catch the big group outings due to other plans. Most of my exploring happened during the day while other people were at work. I also did a bunch of errands this week at Target and Safeway. I did, however, get to hang out with my roommate Kiren (who is awesome). No regrets so far!

Tonight was the first time I actually went out with other people. I met up with Nabila after she got off work. We headed over to Kramerbooks & Afterwords Cafe – it’s a restaurant / bar / bookstore. I had a crab quesadilla. SO DELICIOUS. Then afterwards (pun intended), I met up with a few people and hung out in Dupont Circle. We walked around a bit, listened to some live music, and relaxed after a long hot day. Plazas are to California as circles are to Washington, D.C., to give you a proper analogy.

crab quesadilla

The homesickness started to improve today. I know that I’m a social creature and that through time, I will be able to open up more. I can’t help but miss the family and friends I have at home. Phone calls, AIM, and letters can only do so much. Nothing beats really being there in person. After talking to Nabila today, who has been here for over a year, my fears of being far away from my core have been confirmed. The harsh reality is really that harsh. But there comes a time in one’s life when one must weigh the gains and losses. My experience here will, no doubt, help steer me towards what I want and hopefully away from what I don’t. For the time being, yes, I will be far from those I care most about, but that doesn’t mean that I can’t make good friends here. Will these relationships ever amount to what I have back home? Never. But luckily, I have the Fourth to look forward to still!

P.S. Anyone seen American History X? I watched it today while I was trying to kill some time, and that is one depressing movie.

Running in D.C. (and not for office)

taken from my BlackBerry

The crosswalks give you far much more time than you need to cross the street. One crosswalk at Thomas Circle gives you 80 seconds to cross a total of 10 ft. In California, crosswalks give you half the time to walk twice the distance! And they say things on the EAST coast move faster.

So I went running tonight and ended up at the White House. I tried to look for Obama through the windows, but he was probably busy with something inside. If I ever get to fist bump Michelle, I’ll let you guys know. There was a camera crew of two on the White House lawn filming something with a crane. Also, for 9PM at night, it was still relatively light out.

I had always wondered what it’d be like running in a big city. The prospect of all the sights and sounds attracted me to the idea initially while the smells deterred me, but you barely notice the odors amiss the humidity here. There is a lot to look at. I (unintentionally) ran past the AFL-CIO building, the National Geographic Museum, the Washington Monument, the Capital Hilton, and other things many scholars doing research would consider important. And here I am, viewing them in passing. Aren’t I cool? No, not really.

I am a small fish in a big tank. I am slowly coming to terms with this. In a city like D.C., you’re dwarfed not only by the tremendous monuments and architecture but also by how many people there are living in the metro. How do they define success and how are they getting there? What are their core values? Are they the same as mine? What makes me so special?

Big questions on the brain! I don’t have answers yet, but when I do have some form of synthesis, I’ll let you guys know. Until then, I miss you a lot!

The E.R. in VA

What a busy day in Washington, D.C.

1. There was a two-train collision on the Red Line metro (which I took today), leaving 4 people dead and 70 injured.

2. At Virginia Hospital in Arlington, there was a fire that caused all the patients to be moved into the Emergency Room.

3. In that emergency room were myself and my friend Gwen, who was admitted there due to sharp abdominal pains she had been experiencing since the morning.

They say D.C. is a busy city, and I believe it wholeheartedly now.

Despite everything that goes on here, the most enriching experience I’ve had so far has been spending time with Gwen in Rm. 7 at the ER. We had some introspective conversations that brought us to topics ranging from favorite elementary school teachers, to careers, to death. We learned the nurses’ names (Nelson, Kas, Carolina), did the crossword puzzles in magazines around us, and tried out Sudoku. This reaffirms that for me, life experience has much less to do with places or things and more to do with the people around me and the relationships that I form with them. I’ll take this to heart for when I finally start work on Friday. As an intern, I’ll most likely be doing grunt work, BUT if I can get along well with those I’m working with as well as who I’m working for, it’ll make this experience all the more worthwhile. There are tons of different personalities in D.C., and if I can get along with at least some of them, I’ll feel like I got something out of this experience.

So I have a job offer to work for AmeriCorps starting in September. The words “job offer” don’t come around too often in this economic climate, and I realize that. What it entails perfectly suits my interests, and I would be working with a close group of attorneys in the D.C./Maryland area. I’d be focusing on community development and organization, reaching out specifically to the Asian American community here.

This sounds great, right? It would give me non-competitive eligibility for federal government positions after I serve my one-year term, entail an education award to pay off student fees, and entitle me to work I am passionate about, as well as give me leadership experience in community development. Maybe give me an edge on my law school application. Sounds much better than spending time working for someone else in an office. The problem is I’m homesick. Could I imagine living out here for a year without my family and friends? I know I can take care of myself, but if something happens to me or to my family, what to do with the feeling of helplessness (as illustrated by today’s example)? Most of the time when I travel, I go through an awestruck stage, homesickness, then comfort. Since I had time to mentally prepare myself for possibly staying for a year before I left for D.C. in the first place, I bypassed the first stage. Who knows whether I’ll reach the latter.

Most people here are milking their experience here this summer because they know they’re leaving in a matter of months. I could be staying here for over a year. A few years ago, I had wide-eyed dreams of living in other countries for a while, traveling the world, and committing to years of service away from home. Now that I’m actually physically removed from my natural habitat, I’m a little disoriented. No, strike that – disillusioned.

I might be thinking about this way too much, especially since it’s the first job offer that rolled around, but there is a time limit on when I have to get back to them. Pressure’s on. In the end, the decision is my own. I just have to think it through enough so that in the long run, I have no regrets.

Springfield, Virginia

The last week has passed by with breakneck speed – finals, graduation, Vegas, farewells, and now I’m sitting in my cousin’s room in Springfield, Virginia, typing this entry while listening to Count Basie. Thousands of emotions are passing through me at one point that I am surprised at my ability to contain it all.

Flying into Dulles Airport has always been pleasant and easy on the eyes. I’ve been through D.C. on many layovers to New York, Boston, and New Orleans. There is so much green here. As the Russians say, I had a soft landing after a five-hour direct flight. When the plane finally hit the ground, it finally hit ME that this is my new home, whether I’m ready for it or not.

My dad is here with me for the weekend. My mom is flying in tomorrow. They’re going to be here for a mutual friend’s wedding on Saturday, which makes the transition much easier for me. Dad is really excited about being in the city. We both rented a car today and drove down to the UC Center, where I’ll be moving in come Sunday. We drove into D.C. at the pique of rush hour – not one of our brightest ideas, but I now know that public transit is very much so my friend, which is not atypical of living in a metropolitan area. There is so much to look at! Everything has some sort of historical significance. Even the Starbucks’ and CVS’s are embedded into edifices teeming with stories that date back to who knows when. The city is amazing, but I’m holding off on the touristy stuff for a while, considering I’ll be here for quite a bit.

We trekked to Viet Town for dinner and had some pretty good hu tieu. The suburbs here remind me a lot of home, which either says a lot about my nostalgia or simply says a lot about suburbs in general. The Vietnamese population in Richmond and Springfield is one of the largest in the United States. It has always amazed me how the community has been able to establish itself in the locations that it has. I look forward to learning more about the community on this coast while I’m here.

In a way, being in Springfield first is a bit of a transition into being on my own out here, and I’m thankful for that. I’ve been catching up with my cousins Dan and Ann. They’ve got insight on what it’s like to live around here, and we had a really good time today.

Everything I see reminds me of people back home. Usually I experience this when I travel, and this results in prolific text messages in my friends’ inboxes. This time, I’m trying to take it easy. I’ll see you guys on the Fourth. 🙂

I’ll write again after Sunday when I’m settled in the city!

First

So it’s finals week and I wanted a diversion from writing my paper on Auschwitz from 1944 to 1945. It’s pretty depressing, so I welcome the distraction. Here’s my blog that I’m going to keep while I’m in D.C. so you can follow me on my misadventures across the nation.

Needless to say but I’ll say it anyway, I’ll really miss you guys. But if you’re reading this, we’ll be in touch.

-L