Monday, August 23, 2010
3. Eating Out, Waiting Service: I've had a handful of friends in the "service industry," more importantly, the hospitality industry and there's always plenty of anecdotes to tell about crazy patrons, lousy tippers, drunken sketchies, the whole 9 yards. DC brings a whole new level to talking about the "Hospitality Industry." I try to give every restaurant the benefit of the doubt, it's busy, you've had a bad day... but the wait staff across the board, in multiple restaurants in VA and the District are just downright sloppy. From not being able to "add" when the restaurants power went out to saying, "Um, sorry... we're a little busy. You're going to have to wait" when I first walked in the door - it's just hard to believe that at least 50% of the places I went to had bad service. I'm not too picky - I understand that it's not the best job in the world and I always come off as a decent tipper, until you prove me otherwise. And, let me tell you, I was proved otherwise. That being said, there are some clutch places that have decent service, are cool peeps and I wouldn't mind being a regular. They include (and yes, they need the recognition): The Big Hunt, Columbia Firehouse, Dukem, and my local Starbucks.
4. Tourism: It goes without saying that there's tourism in DC. Heck, it's the nation's capital. There's Indian women with beautiful saris & sneaks', there's the high-sock dad, frazzled mom & 2.3 kids wearing "United States of America" t-Shirts. the safety-patrol group from YOUR local elementary school. They come in all shapes and sizes, and luckily, my weekdays didn't cross paths with too many tourists because I commuted to/from work during a gods-knows-why-we-all-ride-the-metro time. But when I did come across these tourists, I found myself so quickly jaded. WHY ARE YOU IN MY WAY? (As if I lived in this city for more than 2 months, ha)
5. Escalator Etiquette: No one tells you when you move to DC that there's this escalator etiquette to follow. I had a week of non-work to figure it out so by the time I was commuting during "rush hour," you bet your buttons I knew that you: Stand on the Right, Walk on the Left... if the escalator is broken, you better walk promptly. I'll give you a heads up and tell you that about 70% of the time, the escalator is going to be broken because they are from 1974. (and this is how DC Metro explains their delayed fixes) God forbid you realize you dropped a $20 dollar bill, your shoelace becomes untied, and you seen your soul mate on the opposite escalator. I once saw a guy literally get yelled at by some 3-piece suit wearing DC'er who was IRATE that he'd have to slow his commute by 23 seconds due to this asshole standing on the left side of the escalator. Oh snap. You really do get evil glares, so it's best if you just stick to the right. (Which means you stand, but you'll probably end up missing your metro by approximately 23 seconds).
6. State-Named Roads: DC is a very manageable city to navigate yourself in. There's about 4 metro lines, all coded-coded for the color-blind. The East-West streets are Letters, and ascend as you get North and the North-South streets are Numbers. There's even quadrants! NW, SE, you name it. When I came, totally doable. And then I found myself on a state-named street which is..DIAGONAL. Who does that? Apparently, this guy named L'Enfant. They totally throw off your game so I avoided them at all cost, minus Penn Ave because that's where the Prezzie lives.
The List Continues...
Sunday, August 15, 2010
As I'm nearing the end of my tenure here in Washington, DC I figured it was appropriate to give the low-down on this city from the perspective of a South Floridian. Note: South Floridian is a good way to describe myself because it lets you know that a) "reliable" public transit does not exist and b) while I grew up a highly populated area, everything is dispersed, spread out miles until the towns literally seep into the Everglades. Anywho, for my last week I want to post a series of "District Nonsensicalness" giving you mini-rants about life in the Capital, starting today.
1. The Metro, DC's Subway System: I'm not going to lie, when I first moved to the District this was one of the things I was looking most forward to. I did not bring my own vehicle to the city so the Metro is my mode of transit, give or take a few cab rides. Let's just say you can learn about the local population sitting on a metro. Not only is it prime-scoping-out-people time, it's the one of the easiest ways to commute around the city. After a few months of riding the Metro daily and two price hikes, I've realized that albeit convenient for the automobile-less, the Metro is a pain in the ass. A museum of it's own kind. There's an etiquette that's often forgotten, it takes quite the amount of time to commute to relatively easily-accessible places, and the system has a panic attack any changes in the day occur, ie. Weather. I've been squished up against the door, fallen on strangers, climbed many a broken escalator, and fanned myself from the lack of air-conditioning in the Metro stops. I was thinking the other day that no matter how early I leave for work, I put my time line in the hands of a public transit system so I could be early or perhaps 30 minutes late without having any advance notice. This sort of struck me as odd, coming from SoFla considering I owned my own vehicle and commuted everywhere on my own time. Nope, not the case here. Unfortunately, these metros don't care what time I arrive at work. Or if I look like a hot mess. Argh! To DC's credit, the Metros are relatively clean in comparison to the Subway in NYC and dare I say it, the T in Boston! (GASP!)
2. Shopping, Non-Grocery & Grocery: Alright, alright, so I come from a land of tourism, old people and a community that's relatively filled with options. I suppose living in the 'burbs would be more similar to my homeland but not so much in the District. I've figured out that no matter where I go, to a clothing store (note: not Forever 21 or H&M) or the Grocery Store, these places just don't come with the same options as many places do in the South. Surely, this highly populated city likes more than 3 types of peanut butter? No!? I don't consider myself too much of a brand snob: in fact, many of the groceries procured in College were store-brand but here in the city, I feel like I have lesser options than I will in Peru. Maybe it's me, probably. I just could never get over the fact that grocery stores would only have 3-5 options for a common product. The trick to beating this: Scoping out the better grocery stores, which naturally have to be farther away, more expensive, and generally not convenient. such is life!
Monday, August 02, 2010
Few things have been circulating my cranium – what I should be appreciative of while I’m still stateside and various trivialities. I have a friend who’s going through an incredibly trying time right now and all I can think of is the strength she’s expending to wake up each morning with a new hope. My only hope, because she has a heart of solid gold, is that these times don’t jade her – that she doesn’t lose faith in life… that she will continue to be one of the most inspiring people in young minds. When I think about the “trying times” I’ve had… they are a far cry from life-changing. If anything, I’ve been granted an easy path and I feel fortunate enough to have the sight to use this steady path for the greater good. That I take my time to volunteer, that I want to spend two years of my young life to work in a third-world nation. That I don’t see myself walking far from the world of humanitarianism.
I think knowing about the difficulties of my close friend have me looking to faith: faith for her, faith for everyone. Not that I feel any less “Catholic” but the lack of other-worldly presence in my life gives me less humility. While I can’t say I’m the most devout church-goer, I can say that each time I do go, it’s a new lessen learned… an opportunity to sit in my thoughts, prayers. A quieter time to be appreciative of the aforementioned. Interning in the city leaves little time to concentrate on these things, let alone find “community” in a local congregation.
I’ve been recently finding myself seeing the future before I see what is right in front of me. Perhaps it’s because I have a departure date or I’m just getting cabin fever in the capital. It’s somewhat unsettling to know that I can’t take root in just this. This simplicity that I’m living now. I am eager to get back to FL: to see my family, my closest friends, and everything that I’m so comfortable with. Basking in that will be a great finish to a new beginning.
So, now it's August.
Wednesday, July 21, 2010
Yet only a year ago, I spent an entire half week celebrating my 21st with my family and then a weekend in Gainesville, downing the booze as if my cells generated ATP from Gin & Tonics. (nerdjoke)
I'm becoming a little anxious to return home to Florida. There's something about being in the city that is just so fitting but I still feel like something is missing. (Annoying).
&& For the curious, I'll be spending my birthday at Red Cross headquarters working and attending a State Department summit in the later afternoon/evening. Typical D.C.
Here's to 22, let it be valuable.
Saturday, July 17, 2010
Today, or I guess 15 minutes ago when I began this post, marked the "Two Month" Countdown until I'll be in Peru. That's right, approximately 60 days left in the comforts of air-conditioning, hair-straightening, Blackberry using US of A. I don't know why this moment in time hit me so much more than say, my three month or what have you. Perhaps I'll be fretting some more in a month, or even the week before I leave.
I was just working on some Peace Corps paperwork today, sent in my Visa/Second Passport paperwork in this past week and also made my second-to-last Dental visit before I complete that process. Oh! and I officially am facebook-friended with some gals who will be joining me mid-September in my Peace Corps group! I suppose it's been a productive "Peace Corps week." But today, perhaps even more so than when I received my formal invite, hit me.
I'm finishing up (in about a month) my internship at National Headquarters and starting to think about the date I'll fly back to Florida. (23rd?) I think, with this timing, what's most bothersome is that my days are numbered. There's not much I can do to relish in my comforts when I'm so far removed from my hometown, my family, or even my college town. So while I have 60 days, I have less than 30 to assimilate back to Florida (read: go to the beach), ideally visit Gainesville for a few, procure and pack my belongings and come back to D.C. for staging. (I think this could be somewhere else but I'm banking on D.C). I'm most worried about getting everything done that needs to be done, seeing everyone I want to see before I leave for 27 months.
I'm sure I'm not alone; this feeling of "holy crap" is probably experienced by every volunteer or anyone really, who leaves their homeland for some time. But what it does though, is emphasizes the importance of everyone and everything in my life. Laughter, hugs, foods, bbms with my best friend - they all mean so much more now because they won't come as easy when I'm gallivanting about the Southern Hemisphere. And not to say none of my "American Usuals" are any less important without me joining the Peace Corps. It's just...
I'm going to miss everything.
And that's not saying I'm any less excited, thrilled, overwhelmed by this fantastic opportunity to work in International Development. In fact, without having previous "field work," this is one of the fastest/quickest ways to earn some 'cred in the development arena. & For that, I'm incredibly grateful and ecstatic to share my knowledge with those who can benefit from it.
Peruvians, hear me out: I can't wait to be with you!
Friday, July 02, 2010
National Headquarters work, interacting with executives and program managers, running on Starbucks and having a grasp on what it means to have everything and to push it out to everyone. It’s hard to explain. It’s being in the holy grail of non-profit work. It’s delivering a universal humanitarian mission to mass populations. I’m always surrounded by incredibly intelligent, innovative, change-makers… People who believe in the same mission who are competitive, ambitious, and come from all walks of experience. It’s humbling to be in a place where my credentials are small in comparison but understanding that I can only move forward.
I’m really at a loss to which I prefer.
Tuesday, June 22, 2010
Here I am, nearing the end of June and living in Washington, DC. I’ve graduated from UF and feel very far from it (physically and mentally.) I earned an award granted from my College which was a surprise - come graduation day, and the week after walking in what my friends and I like to call “hooker heels” across that rickety stage setup, I found out that I snagged a pretty sweet gig at Red Cross National Headquarters.
Right!? It’s been hard to wrap my head around that idea as well, even though I’ve been here for three weeks now. After my much-needed sun-kissed vacation in South Florida, I packed up and got down to business. To encapsulate how much I put into this organization is tough but since last August, I’ve worked with International Services programs and I’ve been deployed domestically (Atlanta, GA & New Jersey) to work on a Disaster Relief Operation. I spent months at the North Central Florida Chapter to end up in an overly-decorated (thanks to yours truly) desk in National Headquarters. The road that led me here is a little bit serendipitous and deserving.
To be honest, I didn’t know what I was going to end up doing in the summer – I didn’t want to go home; a tough cookie for my loved ones to swallow, all considering I’m leaving the country soon. Gainesville would have been alright but there was little to no monies to be made. I wanted to be at Chapter but the funding wasn’t going to appear out of nowhere. This internship position opened up and was a doorway into seeing the ‘big picture.” How I was going to get here? Live here? Fund some carbs & coffee to sustain my life? I didn’t know. I took a chance without knowing my Peace Corps departure date to work here for three months that could have easily been cut-short but took the position anyways.
Constantly learning and lending ears to the Senior Associates in this organization. Living in our Nation’s capital has its pros and cons: lots of people to overwhelm your personal space on the metro AND delicious restaurants to sit outside and bask in happy hour delights. A great experience, work and play, to be had. I’ll be here for a month shortly and it seems like I just settled in. (Well, sorta.)
If there’s anything in life we learn, it’s that most things are temporary. Including this job – so what’s next? PERU! After moving to D.C., I shortly found out that my placement for the Peace Corps is a gentle little South American county full of culture, music, foodddd, mestizos, and communities that need help! Even better, my official job is a “Public Health Educator…” I’m pretty sure I couldn’t have asked for things to fall more in place and I am incredibly appreciate/grateful for my friends/family/circumstances that have landed me this opportunity to do something I love and gain so much from it.
This post is all sorts of all-over-the-place but once I get back into the swing of things, I’m sure it’ll be a little more comprehensive, etc. There are thoughts brewing in this mind of mine.
With much more to be said.
Saturday, February 06, 2010
Select Photos from Deerfield Island, Deerfield Beach, FL circa 1990s.
Thursday, November 26, 2009
Please Take Note of the Red Cups -
My Family Knows How to Have a Good Time?? July 2009)
It's my first, and surely not my last, Thanksgiving not with my family. It's a tough pill to swallow but I know that I have to prepare myself to miss these important holidays when I'm away in Peace Corps. Even though my family bleeds ridiculousness, I love & miss them dearly. && with reflecting on what I'm thankful for -- I came up with a few goodies.
1. Family (Because I'm finally understanding what it's like without them.)
2. My Health
3. Certain People in my life who never stop showing what it means to be a good person.
4. The Peace Corps for giving me a "job' for the next 2 years.
5. Organizations today that provide means for others to gather around food and reflect.
Sunday, November 22, 2009
My intention on writing a blog was to keep writing in a blog, but so much has come upon my life in the past two months that I barely found time to close my eyes. Shortly after my last post, I was deployed to Atlanta, GA on a Red Cross Disaster Relief Operation that surely twisted my perceptions on life, on government, and on getting back on one's feet. I had the most rewarding experience two weeks from my "bubble' of the University of Florida -- learning what it really means to have absolutely nothing except for a handful of clothes. I got really close, emotionally, to certain guests of a mass Shelter (Cobb County Civic Center)... for better and for worse. One case that was better was that I was able to send a family to a $300 p/night hotel room because their mother was being discharged from a Hospital (invasive surgery) to.. a shelter. And for the worse, on my last night, I saw the father of a family with 4 children, 2 with severe disabilities, get arrested because of child abuse. I got to interact and be the main contact for illegal Mexican immigrants and utilize those excellent Spanish skills. I also got to meet the Vice President of the United States.
& Shortly following, I had to play catch up with all my school materials that I missed for two weeks. I was fortunate enough to have kind professors who let me make up most of my work and stay on track. Halloween followed shortly after where I went to Jacksonville for my second, and last Florida/Georgia weekend. Good times were had and new palships formed. Shortly thereafter, November comes along with due dates, presentations, tests, quizzes, papers and the whole works. I feel like I'm trying to keep afloat in 18 credits. I signed up for my next semester schedule and it's cake compared to this one. That- I'm super stoked about.
And here I am, nearing the end of November. What was aforementioned is only a fraction of what has been going on in my life. I ALSO TOTALLY GOT MY PEACE CORPS NOMINATION FOR A PROGRAM LEAVING IN AUGUST 2010 in CENTRAL AMERICA!!! For the past couple of months, I've almost been a life coach to those very close to me. (And while keeping my own together?) I've helped some make incredible life decisions - for the better or maybe for the worse. I got involved in a situation with glaring red flags and now I'm suffering the consequences. This situation has caused me to turn some perspectives upside down -- look at how I'm viewing the rest of my time here in the States in a whole new way. In a way that I didn't want to, really... but in a realistic way. I wish I could give full disclosure, and I'm sure I will eventually but it is too soon now. All I know is that when people come to me and when we mutually invest in each other... it all becomes so ... transient. And that, I'm finding really hard to come to terms with.
18 days until I'm cruising the Gulf/Pacific/in some place I'll soon enough find "home."
It's even more peculiar that events in my life are being titled ..."Last.."