cabin fever

I've been home two weeks and the itch to get busy with work has settled in again. I guess I'm just not very good at sitting still and relaxing, but that's not exactly a surprise. That's not to say that I haven't enjoyed my time at home, sitting in my pajamas all morning, reading the whole paper, taking walks, etc. But after a while -- and with no car -- it gets a bit tiresome.

The boredom really started to settle in yesterday. I haven't watched much television at all -- shock! -- though I have gotten sucked into some of the premium movie channels we have. I started watching a particularly dull film yesterday and was so bored that I dug up my guitar, dusted it off, and started reacquainting myself with some chords. I'd like to bring the guitar back to Washington with me, but with all the other stuff I'm checking in, carrying on-board, etc. I'm not sure I'll be able to. I'd rather not check it, seeing as how I don't have a hard case, just a soft gig bag. But I'm not sure if I'd be allowed to bring it on the plane, since it is a full-sized acoustic. Anyone have any experience with this?

Other than that, I've been enjoying reading. I'm almost done with Keri Hulme's "The Bone People." I've been catching up on some Vanity Fair and New Yorker articles and today started reading a book called "The Future of Peace," which is a collection of interviews with some of the world's leading peacemakers. Seems the right time of year to be hoping for peace.

Though I won't be getting any peace tomorrow night. After last year's New Year's Eve madness in Long Beach, this year I was hoping some friends might get together at home, play some games, eat a good meal and relax. But no. I'm going to a bar in Hollywood with Taleen and some of her friends. I'm sure it'll be fun, even though I've never been much of an LA person. My only other option was to sit at home with my parents and as much as I love them, that wouldn't be quite as much fun, now would it? It also wouldn't help with this lingering case of cabin fever.

Hope you all have some fabulous plans lined up. Most importantly remember to: 1. Be safe. and 2. Rock out!

Happy new year!


Happy Christmas

It's 75 degrees outside and my nerdy family is playing Scrabble and soon we'll be sitting outside smoking hookah. A very Merry California-Armenian Christmas to you all!

And if you're wondering what the rest of the Vorperian-Agopian clan does on the holidays, check out the lovely accessories my mom bought for the "kids."



Too tired (and sick -- boo!) to write now, but most importantly: I'm DONE with my first semester of graduate school. I got home Sunday night with a nasty congested nose and a general not-good achy feeling, but all that melted away this morning just as I finished the final touches on my 505 final, meaning I'm DONE!

Hooray! Now I'm off for sushi and shopping with my sister and friends. Let the holidays commence!


my only deadline this weekend is catching my flight out of Reagan on time

The Foggy Bottom-George Washington University station is where I get on and off the Metro for my commutes to and from work every day. The metro stop is directly underneath the GWU hospital, where Sen. Tim Johnson has been undergoing treatment the last few days. As you all know (or should know) Johnson collapsed earlier this week and later underwent surgery to stop bleeding in his brain, thus leaving the already-delicate Democratic majority in the Senate in a total panic.

The last couple days, as I've walked by the hospital, there have been hordes of TV cameras and reporters camped out in front of the entrance, hoping to catch a quote from a family member or one of Johnson's doctors. And each day I've passed them with a little smile on my face, content in the knowledge that for the first time in four years, it isn't me circling like one of those sharks, hungry for the smell of blood. (Pun intended.)

I hated camping out in hospitals. It was the absolute worst part of the job. Rarely do you ever get anything newsworthy out of it and most of the time, you'll get a nasty scowl or even a threat of bodily harm for your trouble.

So these last few days as I keep my fingers crossed for that Democratic majority (and Johnson's recovery, of course!), I've also been grateful for my pressure-free NGO job where the word deadline is loosely defined. Rather than being due in the next 2 hours, most of my projects are due "in the next couple weeks or sometime around then."

There are still plenty of things about journalism that I miss. And the tight deadlines and excitement are definitely two major points. But at this time of year, I'm happy to know that when I turn on my cell phone in the morning and there's a message waiting for me it isn't from a certain Lunatic Editor demanding I rush to the scene of a fire, but rather is just a friend asking if I want to meet for lunch.

P.S. I fly home Sunday! Hooray!


what weekends were like pre-graduate school

I'd forgotten what it was like to have a weekend that didn't require an entire afternoon devoted to reading, researching and writing. A whole weekend to do whatever I wanted. (See how I'm not letting those last two teeny papers get in the way of my fun? Don't worry, mom. I'll get my work done.)

Saturday I went to Eastern Market for my first trip there. If it wasn't 30 degrees, I'm sure I would have enjoyed it much more. But I'm already planning return trips for cute jewelry, fun artwork (though maybe not a set of wooden ducks that Vahan decided his house desperately needed), and some delicious fresh meats and seafood.

In the evening we dined on bratwurst that we'd picked up at Eastern Market, then headed out to a rather odd little U Street bar, which may be my new favorite watering hole: The Saloon. They've got some rules that work in their favor:

* No standing around the bar. If you can't find a spot to sit, you're asked to leave.
* No loud conversations. Only your friends are interested in what you have to say, not the five people sitting around you.
* Some beers you can only have one or two glasses of, because it's just that precious.
* Black chocolate stout may in fact be liquid heaven.

Afterwards we headed over to Twins Jazz for some excellent music, probably the best chicken wings I've ever had, and a Guinness, for good measure.

This morning was Vahan's famous brunch: homemade hash browns, sausage, French toast, and omelettes made to order.

A weekend of good eats, in all. The training for marathon holiday eating has commenced.

Also, for those keeping track at home: I'll be home in just one week! Get ready!


home stretch

I had the last lecture of my first semester of grad school tonight. I'm almost DONE. All that's left is a take-home final (due Dec. 18, one day after I get home) and a final paper/project/whatever-I-want-to-make-of-it/creative-type assignment (due Dec. 20, three days after I get home).

See, at this point, everything is considered in terms of how long it will be before I get home. Today? 12 days before I go home! Tomorrow? 11 days! Fun game! Teach the kiddies some math and play at home!

Why so anxious?

1. I haven't been home since August.
2. I'm desperate for real Mexican food.
3. When my alarm went off at 6:30 this morning and NPR came on, the announcer (who really didn't deserve the flurry of epithets I spat at him) told me it was 28 degrees outside!
4. Right now it's 35 degrees.
5. Oh yeah, I miss my family and friends and stuff.

All I need to do is get through those two damn papers...soo close, yet so far away...


procrastination nation

I should be writing the last 140 words of my STIA paper and what am I doing? Screwing around on the Internet, catching up on my friends' blogs, mindlessly flipping through MySpace. Ugh. I did so great for the first half of the semester. I was energized. I did ALL the reading. I enthusiastically participated in class discussions. Now? I just want to go home, eat mom's food, and zone out in front of a TV. (I'm *really* starting to miss having a TV. Just a little CNN or DiscoveryTimes. Is that so much for a girl to ask?)

I wonder if part of my fatigue has to do with the semester system? The 10-week quarter always seemed to zip by rather quickly. The four-month-long semester seems to be interiminable. Especially now that I'm on the cusp. Last lecture is Tuesday and after that I only have one paper/potential multimedia project and a take-home exam, which probably will run no more than 5 or 6 pages. Easy!

Counting the days to Dec. 17...

In addition to all that, Roommate and I have decided we both really want to move into the city and are looking into subletting our place and moving into the Big Bad City sometime around mid-January. Part of tonight's procrastination revolved around us simultaneoulsy searching Craig's List and Washington City Paper and calling out attractive-looking listings. I'm going to call a few places tomorrow.

Our apartment is great and it is in a cute neighborhood, but we've both been feeling pretty isolated. Some of you have heard my complaints on this. It largely has to do with my lack of a car and the general unreliability of the weekend bus schedules. Also, after riding the train, waiting up to half an hour for a bus can be pretty frustrating. So we'll see what comes up. No guarantees yet, but we're both pretty excited about the possibility.

So if any of you D.C. readers have suggestions/ideas, let me know!


lowdown on motown

The semester is winding down and I can't wait until Dec. 17 when I can officially shut off my brain for a good solid three weeks, gorge myself on my mom's cooking, and watch some good trashy TV.

Life is moving at a fever pitch in the last month or so. School is definitely on the upswing and so is work and to top it off there's been a new friend who I've been spending some time with. Normally, I wouldn't broadcast this to Internet-land, but it's the only way I can explain why someone would choose Detroit as a vacation destination.

Yes, the Motor City. I was there from Friday-Sunday, partying it up with my new Armenian friends and their families and generally blowing off the steam that's been building up since I moved here mid-August. It was also the first time I'd left the beltway in three months. I was desperate to get the hell out of Dodge. So when I was invited there for the weekend, it seemed like the ideal vacation spot.

Armenians + food + friends + dancing = a rockin' good time. Even if it's in the Midwest.

Don't believe me? Have a look:

With some fun Detroit kids at the AYF dance on Friday night.

With my two favorite Detroit Tigers.

They got art in Detroit, too. (Diego Rivera's murals in the Detroit Institute of the Arts.)


quick rant

How is it that someone can work as a professional writer for five years (nine, if you count the four years at The Aggie, which I do. Even if I was paid crap.) and still go crazy at the thought of writing anything longer than five pages?

How? HOW?


End rant.


elections ad nauseum

At the behest of Dr. Freddy's dad -- both of whom I joined at the National Gallery of Art this afternoon for a Sunday afternoon respite from the rain and studying -- I'm updating my blog. I got a stern talking-to while looking for what he called the cheap thrills section of the gallery (the familiar Monets, Manets and Renoirs.)

My life is so consumed by school and work and politics these days, I've barely had a chance to come up for air. In fact, I haven't even really had a chance to properly celebrate the Democrats' win. (Hooray! Huzzah!) There was a lot of NPR listening going on election night as I worked at breakneck speed to finish my 505 midterm. I was tempted to crash the Dems' victory party that night but was deterred by 1) icky soggy weather and 2) the nagging midterm. Luckily, the paper was quickly delivered to my TA by midnight, leaving Friday night open to eat dolma at a friend's house (it's nice having friends who can cook you the foods you miss eating at mom's house) and finally celebrate the Dems' win.

Only, in my case, it turned into a comiseration party for Young Republican Andrew, who sadly lost his job as a result of the election results. To that end, we're trying to convince him to switch teams, but apparently that's out of the question. Something about Pelosi being the devil or something. Hey Andrew! You said you have more Dem friends anyway -- wouldn't this make your life easier?

At least we go to have some beers at Brickseller. It's not much of a bar, but I love it because it has about 1,000 different bottled beers on their menu from just about every country in the world (except Armenia. *sigh* Where can a girl get a Kotayk in D.C.?)

All that said: I'm happy to report that for the first time in my life I voted for a real, honest-to-goodness winner. My vote helped propel Jim Webb's slim margin of victory in the Virginia senate race, consequently unseating that macaca-uttering bufffoon George Allen (and hopefully dashing any presidential hopes he may have once harbored.) Yes, I've voted for both Boxer and Feinstein the past, but those are givens. After years of wasted votes on Gore, Kerry and Edwards (voted for him in the CA primary), it felt good to back a winner.

And as if all that wasn't enough, watching President Shrub announce Rummy's resignation with my lefty colleagues made for a truly fantastic week.

Here's to the new Congress!


Yes, I know I suck...

But you try to juggle working 30 hours a week, 3 classes and a full social calendar! Go ahead! I dare you! Try it!

(Mom and Dad, before you call to scold me for working so much, bear in mind that I'm getting straight A's! Woohoo!)

Brief recap: 1. Prom was FABULOUS. Pictures to follow. Add one part academics, two parts graduate students and an open bar and you'll have one fabulous cocktail of a good time.

2. I may not have bought a new top for the occasion, but in the last couple weeks I've decided that my credit card needed a workout largely because the weather has a tendency to dip 20 degrees every few days and I have no appropriately cute east coast sweaters. As such, I'm hoping Fannie Mae offers loans for H&M and Ann Taylor. Said purchases perhaps may have included a totally hot black-and-red cocktail dress for which I have no use, particularly as winter nears, but whatever. It was too adorable AND on sale. I consider it an early Christmas present to me.

3. Work is going swimmingly. So swimmingly, in fact, that they've asked me to stay on in the spring. The position was only supposed to last through fall semester, but I'll be staying to work exclusively on some youth-in-conflict related projects, which I'm very excited about. AND I'll only be working 20 hours a week. Phew! More time for happy hour....I mean....writing papers...errrr. Yeah. That's it... Hi Mom!

4. My cooking skills are markedly improving, thanks largely to Trader Joe's and Cindy who are my enablers in this regard. In the last week, I made my *own* variation on a pork chop recipe in a red wine sauce that turned out delicious and tonight I tried my hand at acorn squash that would likely have turned into a yellow mushy mess had it not been for Cindy's patient telephonic advice. So despite *some* people's snickering over my two pans and a pot and Rebecca's insistence on buying me a blender for Christmas, I'm doing just fine.

5. I'm certainly not undernourished. It doesn't help that the last two nights of school I've resorted to college tactics and had cheeseburgers. But they were reallllllllly good cheeseburgers at Five Guys and The Tombs, which is my program's de facto study hall. I also discovered they have free wireless during happy hour. Guess where I'll be "studying" before Monday night classes. Heehee...

6. Didn't really do the Halloween thing this year. Too much homework, etc. going on. I did wander around Georgetown's M Street with fellow grad students after class last night. Halloween on a Tuesday night is a bad idea for people who work and I went home after one beer. See! I can be disciplined when I need to be.

That about covers it. I was all set to load pictures but my free (ahem) wifi is acting up, so you'll just have to settle for the power of the written word tonight.


an addendum

Dad called last night. I can go to prom. Yay!

Now I just need a snazzy new top...

Dad...can I borrow $20?


further proof I need to unwind before going to sleep with 10 things on my mind

I've been meaning to write this entry since I got home but because stealing WiFi is *so* unreliable -- no customer service to call and complain to. Sigh. -- I've instead been fiddling around with a take-home mid-term. I wrote a whole paragraph! Just four pages to go!

Anyhow, as the title hinted, I've been so busy lately that I always have roughly a million things going through my pretty little head as I lay it down to rest on my pretty little pillow.

So much so that last night's dream went a little something like this:

The Scene

Home in Irvine. Asking my dad if I can borrow $20 to buy a new top at Forever 21 to go with the black skirt I'm planning on wearing to my department's prom on Saturday. (The prom and skirt parts are for real. As is my secret desire to get over to Forever 21 sometime this week. Yay!)

Dad's reaction

"You really ought to be saving money for your Fullbright application and frankly, you shouldn't be going out. You really should be working on that Fullbright." (OK, so the Fullbright part is also for real, but that's like TWO years away people!)

Maybe this all just confirms my sneaking suspicion that I'm getting crazier the longer I juggle my crazy work schedule with my school schedule.



tales from the metro

My new favorite DC moment:

The scene: Riding the escalator down to the Dupont stop on the red line.

The players: Young Republican Andrew and me and assorted Metro riders

The action: YRA struggles with the complex physics of shutting his umbrella, deterring a young lady as she walks down the escalator to her train.

I reassure her: "It's OK. He's a Republican."

Her reaction: Understanding laughter.


world leaders blahblahblah

Girl on cell phone overheard while studying on the lawn outside Healy Hall and watching the Secret Service invade campus in advance of Afghan President Hamid Karzai's lecture today. (Note: This was said in the dullest, most disinterested voice possible):

"The Afghan president is here. I guess I should stop waving my pistol around and get some work done."


too cool for school

Not really, but I'm definitely too cool for this blog. I've hardly had any down time since I lost wrote in here. Apologies to my loyal readers (all 6 of you. I know you're out there! Sitetracker is rad!)

All that said, it really has been a whirlwind couple of weeks. Classes are in full swing -- researching my first paper this weekend at the library, exact topic remains to be determined, but suffice to say it will incorporate international security and information technology, as that is the title of the course. Last weekend was spent at an ANCA conference on grassroots leadership, which drained me of all energy for this week. Armenians are great and exhausting and talkative and funny and fun. I went out two nights in a row (I'm OLD -- this is a major accomplishment), hoofed it all over Capitol Hill, and listened as my fellow Armos chewed out the Assistant Secretary of State for Eurasian Affairs for firing the previous ambassador to Armenia. If you want to know why, just click here.

Oh, and I met some cool D.C. Armos. It was a fun weekend.

Now I'm learning the delicate balance between work and school and generally loving, being fascinated and blown away by nearly everything I hear and see every day.

Today, it would be this invite I just got in my Georgetown email:

"John J. DeGioiaPresident of Georgetown University invites you to attend theconferral of the degree Doctor of Laws, honoris causa upon His ExcellencyHamid KarzaiPresident of Afghanistan"

What made that announcement even better was it was immediately preceded by an invitation to a Fountains of Wayne concert on campus this Saturday.

What can I say except: Hoya Saxa!


high-brow vs. low-brow

There's so much to update y'all on. (I live below the Mason-Dixon line now, I'm allowed to say things like "y'all" and not sound like an ass.)

Let's see, started classes with an introdutory session for my required intro to communication, culture and technology course. Seems like it'll be an interesting one. The readings are incredibly varied and all the first-years are enrolled in it, so it'll be nice to comiserate with my classmates.

Work is getting more interesting. I'm getting some more substantive tasks (read: reasearch, etc.) and I'm really loving everything I'm learning about this field so far.

Roommie and I continue to get along famously. We occasionally hit the gym together after work. Tonight, we've decided to do some furhter exploring of our little downtown. Namely, we're going to get some beers at the local microbrewery and perhaps shoot some pool.

The weather is fabulous. The rains have disappeared and instead it feels more like an Indian summer. It was in the low 80s today. Perfect weather for me to trample all over Georgetown, picking up last-minute books, stopping by the department's computer lab, and do some reading in the library's graduate student reading room. It feels pretty cool reading in a room on whose door it explicitly states that the space is reserved ONLY for grad students. Oh yes, I'm a fancy pants.

But not so fancy that I can't be lured into some low-brow entertainment. I know you've all been dying to know which celebrity I most resemble (uh-huh). You'll be happy to know (well I'm VERY happy to know) that I most resemble Maria Menounos, who's *totally* hot. Now if only some handsome, smart and preferably tall men would notice that.

MyHeritage - share black and white photos with facial recognition technology


going native

Though I don't know if D.C. will ever feel like home -- especially if I keep having my ritual morning adventures on the Metro (a.k.a. getting on the yellow instead of the blue, going out the 17th St. exit instead of 18th St. to get to work, etc.) -- but I do know I'll never cease to be amazed at this place.

Example: Yesterday Roommate and I headed to the Kennedy Center to see one of her colleagues perform on the Millennium Stage. It was a cool way to get introduced to the Kennedy Center. Mom and Dad will be pleased to know I'm planning return trips for the National Symphony Orchestra. If, for nothing else, than to see this guy:

There are so many amazing things to do here which are, most importantly, *free* that I'm not really sure why anyone would pay for entertainment. However, a few things seem to be worth dropping some dough. Some classmates headed to HR-57, a very cool nonprofit jazz center/club Saturday night. We didn't make it there as dinner at Jaleo, a fabulous tapas joint in Chinatown (go figure), ran long. But we did make it over to Cafe Saint-Ex on 14th St. for a gin and tonic before calling it a night. Dinner involved a group of 12 almost exclusively Californians (minus one person's date. Ahem.) Ali organized it as a very sweet welcome to town for me. It's a tossup which was better: The deep fried date-bacon-dumpling thingies or the white wine sangria. Oh, and we also celebrated Dr. Freddy's birthday, as he kept politely reminding everybody (including the waitress) of the day's significance. We sang to him when a petit-sized dessert arrived before him with a single candle. Good times.

In an effort to keep you on your toes, let's jump back to yesterday. After the Kennedy Center outing, Roommate and I decided to do a little exploring. First we landed here:

But the current occupants didn't invite us in for a beer or a snack, so we ditched that plan and headed up to Adams-Morgan, a very hip neighborhood just north of Dupont Circle. We stopped in a Middle Eastern cafe for some hookah, hummus, moutabel and falafel. It was delicious.

This week's mission: Find a Middle Eastern grocer.

Oh, and I start classes tomorrow. Yikes. Stay tuned.


and now back to work

On my first day at work, in training with three other new project assistants, two of them turned out to be from California. It's nice to have a piece of home so close.

My two bosses are two dudes who've done some crazy work abroad (read: Kosovo, Bosnia, Ukraine, etc.) and spent their first meeting with me discussing their fantasy football teams, the work touch football team and me giving them fashion advice. We agreed we'd be getting along famously in no time.

Also: Registered for classes today. I'll be taking a required intro course, a class called "Culture of War, Culture of Peace," and likely a third called "International Relations, Information and Technology." But with classes starting Wednesday and Labor Day being Monday and my classes only being on Mondays and Tuesdays, I'll be sitting pretty until Tuesday. And really only launching into it in two weeks. Will this summer never end?

Save the hate mail. I'm definitely taking advantage of being in this awesome city. Saturday night I went out with my favorite shrink and his buddy, Moto. (That's his super secret call sign -- he's a test pilot for the Navy. Cool, no?) We had dinner in Georgetown then hit a few bars, which mostly turned out to be undergrad dives. Still, it was fun pretending to be 21 again.

I definitely felt 26 when I woke up Sunday after a nearly sleepless night. I rallied back with a good amount of gatorade and again headed for Georgetown. This time to the waterfront to meet up with some of my new friends, who organized a canoeing trip on the Potomac. What a great way to end the weekend. Especially with views like this:

See that little red building up on the right? This one:

That’s where my department’s office is. Awesome.


back to school

Waiting in line for my student ID card under yesterday's blazing hot afternoon sun, I heard a father say to his freshly fresh freshman son: "Why don't you go stand under the shade and I'll stay here for the first few minutes."

I smiled to myself, turned and said to him: "I wish my dad was here to wait in line for me."

He looked at me incredulously: "You mean your parents made you move into the dorms by yourself?"

At first flattered for being mistaken for an 18-year-old and then feeling quickly deflated for being mistaken for a clueless freshman, I gently corrected him: "Oh no, actually, today is my first day of graduate school."

"Oh!" he said. "Congratulations! I guess you're used to doing stuff on your own."

I guess I am. Sort of. It's still bizarre.

Watching parents lug crates of towels and sheets, carry mini-fridges from faraway cars and holding back tears as they said goodbye to the kids brought back a rush of memories of that day nine (9!!) years ago when my parents unloaded the Explorer at Tercero. Man was I freaked. But I got through it.

This time, I bring with me all the knowledge of beer before liquor, happy hour specials and a *real* kitchen stocked with more than just cup-o-noodles and chips -- I got a fruit bowl filled with actual fruit that I actually eat!

Still, as I was killing time around campus before the department's orientation reception (in graduate school they *give* you beer ON campus. I heart graduate school.) I decided to call my mom and describe the frenzied parents. She, too, relived that dreadfully hot move-in day in Davis. It was a nice reminder that I'm an adult now and can do things on my own.

Then she told me to drink lots of water. Moms will always be moms.


go orioles! ... no wait ... they suck

At least I got to see Camden Yards, which is probably one of the coolest (if not THE coolest) part in Major League Baseball. But this was no upper-deck kinda game. Matt, being the clutch friend that he is, invited me to partake in free club-level seats he got from a coworker with season tickets. We figured this meant pricier beer and $20 sandwiches (Matt even came prepared with sandwiches and chips to spare my poor student income.)

As it turns out, when you drop some serious change on a season package you get better prices AND better choices in food. We ordered two Kings of Beer, fried chicken, fries, cheese steak and spent significantly less than you would on the mortgage payment you usually would on baseball stadium concessions. All you gotta do is make the down payment up front and promise them the soul of your first-born child. No big.

What made it even better after we went up the special escalator for club-level seat holders and through the glass doors into the fancy air-conditioned hallway with the cheesecakes on rolling carts and the imported beers flowing freely from the taps, was the usher who led us down to our seats in the front section. I figured she was just a decorative escort, but no. As we reached our aisle, she spritzed the chairs and wiped them down. She WIPED DOWN OUR SEATS AT A BASEBALL GAME! I don't think I can ever sit in the upper deck again. It was also pretty nice having a waiter take our food order and bringing us beer.

OK, I take it back. I can sit in the upper deck. That's where the real fun happens. Ya know, where the seats are less than $10 and spent twice as much on a few beers. But there just seems to be more solidarity up there where the air is thinner. That said, a few classmates have already agreed that we need to partake in the Nationals' $3 nosebleed seat special. Oh yes, they're still desperate to reel in the fans. Which is fine by me. Doing my wallet a favor.

Anyhow, last night was great. Even if the Orioles blow and can't play defense to save their lives.

Today consisted of my third trip to Target -- my desk doesn't have drawers so I need stuff to organize the few items I allow myself to pile up on the desk. I also hit up Home Goods after listening to Cindy rave about it for a year. It's like a Nordstrom Rack for dishes, towels, sheets, etc. You know, home goods. Get it? With $60 I got myself a mattress pad, tea kettle, fancy balsamic vinegar and mustard, coasters, glasses and a few other little things. Good deal, eh? If you've got one nearby, I'd recommend it.

Tonight I dined with some new neighborhood friends. Last year when I was applying for schools, I mentioned to Christie that I was looking at Georgetown's public policy program. She put me in touch with her friend Liz, who did just that. After Liz read what I was interested in she directed me to the program I start tomorrow. Needless to say, she was pretty instrumental in that turn of fate. And now she's a neighbor! Well, sort of. She and her husband Brian live just over the freeway from me, so we met in our little downtown Shirlington tonight for dinner at Luna, my new favorite neighborhood joint (and their's, too!) It's great knowing that I have cool people I can call on when I need to find the Home Depot or am looking for good Lebanese food (they've given me a good recommendation already.)

In honor of them, I've added Liz's blog to my links. You should read her blog. She's a good writer and smart -- hell, she got her master's at Georgetown. ;)

P.S. Orientation is tomorrow at 9 a.m. Wish me luck!


financing, furniture and friends

Ain't alliteration awesome?

First, the lead: I got a job! I start here on Monday. I'll be a program assistant for the Citizen Participation team, which basically means I'll be doing a mix of grunt work, research and sitting in on some awesome lecture series. I'm *very* excited to be getting one step closer to the issues I'm most interested in working on: Democratization and working with grassroots advocacy.

Second: I've got (some) furniture! As if Larry and Z didn't go above and beyond already to help me to get to my apartment, Dr. Freddy did the same. He and his truck took me on a little adventure to the Woodbridge Ikea (Irvine folks: Woodbridge, VA, not Woodbridge Warriors.) I dropped some significant change (with a nice little discount thanks to some very cool friends' going-away gifts.) So in two hours, Freddy assembled my bed (trust me, it was a tough job and there was NO WAY I could've done it on my own) and I did the end table, desk, chair, lamp and bookcase. My room looks pretty good. I'm just waiting for some more art work and picture frames to come in the mail to cheer up the walls. So far I've got one poster up.

Third: I've got awesome friends. No surprise there, but I really do. From Fred's grumbling generosity with his truck and manly building skills to Matt's offering of free club-level Orioles tickets tonight (Ali: Bet you're wishing you were back from Stockholm...ok, maybe not. But still: I'm going to Camden Yards!), my friends are the coolest peeps. Little Whelan and I had some beers after what turned out to be my very successful job interview. After that, he convinced me to go make some new friends at a happy hour for my department. The peeps I've met so far are very cool. Looks like the kids will play nice. On Thursday, I'm having dinner with friends of Christie, who live in a nearby neighborhood. No way I'm feeling lonely in my otherwise roommate-less and furniture-less apartment.

Orientation is Friday -- can't wait!


Eleeza is in D.C.!

I have finally arrived. Months of anguish over getting into grad school, then picking a school, then finding a place to live and FINALLY I'm here. It feels good even if I'm sitting on the floor in my new empty apartment typing this. The upshot: Stealing wifi is GREAT!

Zaheera and her younger brother, who's visiting from the OC, picked me up from the airport Friday night. I emerged with 140 pounds of suitcases, an overstuffed backpack and my fabulous brown purse into the muggy heat of D.C. Z assured me that it's much cooler than it's been all summer. Sounds like I have a lot to look forward to next summer.

We grabbed pizza, Z narrowly missed getting arrested (very long and complicated traffic-related story, but suffice to say that we're big fans of DC cops) and everybody crashed early at the new Chez Nista. Incidentally, their new 3-story, 5-bedroom row house in Mt. Pleasant is FABULOUS. I've already asked them to adopt me. They'd never have to change diapers and I'm already grown up. I don't see the downside here. They promised to think it over.

Saturday morning they graciously drove me across the river to Shirlington, my new hood. It's extremely nice having built-in friends when moving to a new city. They saved my butt and I owe them.

Walking into my apartment the first time felt something like checking into a hotel. It's hard to believe that I'll be living here for at least a year. But here I am. Enjoying this:

It'll fill up a bit more today. I'm waiting for Dr. Freddy to show up and take me to Ikea in his fabulous truck. Isn't he a fabulous friend? Go ahead, give him props. He needs them.

After my very limited moving-in experience, I checked out the Village at Shirlington, a VERY Irvine Co.-type urban living development in which my apartment building is located. It's very cute, if a bit cheesy and obviously commercially developed. However, we have endless options for restaurants. I hit gold with Luna Diner and treated myself to a lovely tuna melt and mixed green salad. There's also a very cool independent movie house just down the street. They're playing "Little Miss Sunshine." I'm hoping to make it over there this week for a matinee.

In the evening, I made my first test run in getting to Georgetown. I was meeting Z and an old editor from the Register at a restaurant on M St. It was super-easy taking the bus to the Pentagon and up to Rosslyn. From there, it only took me about 15 minutes to walk across the Key Bridge and get over to Mie N Yu, a very hip restaurant, where we had a lovely meal celebrating my first night out in D.C.

So there you have it, I'm settling in very nicely and I'm *very* anxious to get started at school on Friday. Mostly, I'm curious to meet my new classmates and professors, etc. I hope the kids will want to play with me...

Until then, I'll keep you posted with my Swedish furniture purchases and what I'm hoping will be a successful job interview tomorrow.

Keep those fingers and toes crossed for me! I'm jumping off the deep end into the unknown and loving every second of it.


last night (cue the strokes)

This is my last post from my childhood room in The O.C. I'm ready for my big girl room in Arlington.

It's hard to fathom that it was less than 10 months ago that it first occured to me that maybe I could get into grad school and shortly after thinking aloud on the possibility for the gazillionth time, Becca gently yelled at me and told me to either apply or shut up about it already. What can I say? I respond well to directness.

Thank goodness she was so forward with me. I probably wouldn't be tearing up right now looking at my empty closet and my bare walls and my overstuffed suitcases. And still feeling that something very right was about to happen.

Still, it's not easy walking away from where you grew both from 6 to 16 and from college coed to young working woman. All the more reason to creep closer to 30 in a wholly new environment, I guess.

This time tomorrow I'll be asleep in Larry and Zaheera's new house. Funny how I've started and ended two major 2006 adventures with that crazy couple. My mini world tour started with their wedding in April, I returned home the day of their OC reception (and made it to the party despite my jetlag -- can't keep this gal away from the bhangra music), and now I'm starting over in Washington in their fabulous new house.

The next post will come from *my* fabulous new house!

Look out Dubya, there's only room for one smirking cowgirl in this town and it's gonna be me!


you say goodbye and i say hello

Actually, I've been saying goodbye. A lot. Too much. My eyes sting. I can't take much more of this. I may even have to use eyedrops. And that will only make me cry more.

It's not that I'm not ready for this change. I am. I *soooooooo* am. But it's hard to leave. It's like shipping off to college again. I'm not really sure what to expect. Will I make new friends? Will my classmates like me? Will I fit in?

Yes, I'm aware I'm being a little dramatic. And I *know* that I'll be just fine, but it's still a bit daunting. First impressions count, but they don't count for everything.

It's a new life and I'm ready for it. But leaving behind the old life -- as much as I was ready to leave it behind -- is tough. Letting go of The Paper was easy. It was a job. But letting go of my colleagues, the (mostly) women who sustained me and nurtured me over the four years of my very first job out of college...well, that's hard.

The Anaheim team was the sorority, but the good kind of sorority. The kind that doesn't backstab and only shares the chisme (gossip en espanol) about non-sorority members. There were no formals, only pizza and wine (no beer -- we're a classy bunch) nights spent ridiculing the pathetic bride wannabes on The Bachelor. It was a special kind of bond.

We gathered tonight for one last round of pesto pizza, veggie pizza, ciders and vino at Gina's Pizza. I promised myself I wouldn't cry, but I did. I'm really going to miss them.

We all said goodbye. But I'm getting ready to say hello to the next adventure in my life. Who knows? Maybe it'll include pizza and ciders and Project Runway...A girl can dream.

Still, I'm going to miss my real Anaheim Angels.


in absentia

I've been a terrible blogger of late, I know. Sorry to all my loyal readers who have by now probably just given up on me.

There's been a lot going on in addition to the general packing and madness that has consumed my life.

In two weeks, we had two going-away BBQs: one at the house with the small village that makes up my Dad's side of the family and another at our pool with my friends -- mostly Register peeps, but a mix of others throw in as well, just for good measure.

To the right you'll see all the people I'm related to.

Up top is me as the master cowgirl griller at my going-away BBQ.

To top it all off, I went to my last wedding of the year last night. The 2006 Marital Marathon is officially complete. Woohoo! 2007 is wide open, kids. Hurry up and get engaged before my calendar gets all booked up.

Chris and Adrienne got hitched in Dana Point overlooking the harbor on a beautiful clear afternoon. And then we all had a few drinks...ahem...and kept the party going at Hennessey's, then in the limo on the way back to the hotel and again at the hotel, where we finally crammed into whatever beds we could and intermittently giggled and slept the night away. I finally crawled home at 6 this morning and have been sobering up ever since.

But look how fun it was:

The happy couple.

Trojans represent.

The after party aftermath...

And with that I only have five days left before I fly cross-country, sans shampoo or lotion or liquid makeup, to return to the life of academia. I can't wait!



First I got to play vice-bride, in case Jessey couldn't complete her bridely duties on her wedding day. Now, I'm vice-mom to her two cuter-than-cute kids.
I spent yesterday in Simi Valley hanging with J-momma, Elizabeth (a rowdy and chatty 2-year-old) and Dylan (my little Mr. Potatohead, whose 7-months-old head roughly resembles a spud -- albeit the cutest spud you have EVER seen.)

We had a blast. Elizabeth and I swam in the pool. ("You a dolphin!" Yes, I am, kiddo! Even if I AM sitll afraid of snorkeling). J and I submitted to L'il E's every command: "You jump in now!"

I can't even do justice to their crazy kid antics. You'll have to read up on J's blog for more of that. Only a mother could paint the most hilarious picture of her own insane children.

My arms may be a bit sore from lugging Dylan around the grocery store, but it was totally worth it. He's got the greatest smile that makes everything around you melt away. I guess I do have some maternal instincts I didn't know about it. Otherwise, I wouldn't be proudly posting these pix. Auntie Eleeza will brag to anybody about her favorite Evans kids!

See! I can feed a baby!

She may look sleepy-eyed and innocent here, but she's a regular mermaid in the water.


i have a home!

Well, an apartment anyway.

Well, I don't really *have* it yet. They're still running a criminal background check. Hope those pesky armed robbery charges don't come up.

But still: I *should* have a home by the time I get out to DC. Hooray!

I'll be living in Arlington, just two miles away from the Pentagon. Hope the terroristas don't attack again. Then again, I *chose* Beirut as a vacation destination. Trouble doesn't find me so much as I tend to drop in on it.

Anyhow, this is all thanks to my Fabulous Roommate, who sweated her ass off (and just generally exhausted herself) looking for a place for us to share. I definitely owe her, but seeing as how I'm not much of a cook, I'm thinking I'll buy her a pizza and some beer. Who doesn't love that?

Doesn't it look NICE? It has a pool and a super-nice gym AND central air. Oh yeah. It's the lap of luxury. Best of all: it'll have a couch for all my friends to crash on. Yay!


jit fong and sam got married

Finally attended the last of 2006's all-Register weddings. (Following Theresa and Mike, Zaheera and Larry, Sarah and Lev.) Jit Fong and Sam were happily married to one another on a beautiful sunny Saturday afternoon in Morgan Hill underneath a sprawling hundreds-of-years-old oak tree just outside the house where Sam grew up.

To top it off: I caught the bouquet. Now all I need is a husband.

But to back up, my fabulous weekend that started atop the Golden State, actually got going in Sacramento on Thursday, where I stopped to visit Cindy, who's moved to the Central Valley to pursue her dream of food writing. We had dinner in Davis at Sophia's (I'd had a craving all week!) and stopped in for coffee at Delta of Venus. I half-expected to see John Martins pop up with a pack of cigarettes or to see Jessey stumble out of G Street pub. Ahhh, good times.

Friday was spent in San Francisco, where I lunched with old roommates, indulged at H&M and joined Christie for beer and baseball at the fabulous AT&T Park. I gotta say, it was smaller than I expected, but still a nice venue for a ball game. Plus, sitting at field level made screaming: "BONDS YOU SUCK!" all the easier. Giants fans are a bunch of wusses. Nobody once told me to shut up. Pathetic.

Saturday was the wedding, followed by dinner and catching up with friends Erin and Jeff, who were staying at Erin's parents' house in San Jose for the weekend. I enjoyed learning the intricacies of speed pool and getting my butt kicked in poker by Erin's granddad.

Sunday came the leisurely drive to San Luis Obispo, where I was teaching police reporting to eager beaver high school journalist wannabes. It was the same two-week workshop I attended as a wee lass of 16 only 10 years ago. The kids are great and definitely ambitious, so it makes it a ton of fun.

Oh yeah, and drinking with the old dudes who first taught me the reporting ropes, was pretty damn awesome, too. I ended up staying an extra night for more debauchery in downtown SLO, before the haggard drive back to OC.

In the midst of all this, I confirmed that I do indeed have a roommate lined up for DC, making the apartment hunt that much easier. Woohoo! Karin is a colleague of Ali's, a California girl and very cool, to boot. Fingers crossed that by teaming up she and I will find a place soon enough.

Now if only I could find the will to start packing...


middle east update

Thanks to the many of you have written or called over the last several days to inquire about my family in Lebanon. My aunt and cousins in Beirut are doing just fine. My aunt's house is a distance from most of the major bombing targets. My cousin and her family have already moved to their summer house in the mountains and are very safe. Still, they've no doubt heard the buzz of warplanes and I'm sure are dreading the fact that they are reliving the civil war that they survived so many years ago.

We've had several close family friends who were in Beirut on vacation and suddenly found themselves trapped last week with the airport closed and roads destroyed. They all found a way out through Syria and are now also in safety.

It's been bizarre watching this unfold on telvision having just been there a month ago. Mostly, it's just very sad that it seems Lebanon will never be able to pull itself out of the vicious cycle of violence that's consumed this part of the world. Since my last trip to Beirut seven years ago, I've seen so many positive changes. Nearly all the reconstruction in downtown Beirut was complete, the new airport was polished and beautiful (compared to the bombed-out shell I arrived at on my very first trip to the Mideast in 1997.) Restaurants and resorts are booming and the Lebanese were once again enjoying their laid-back lifestyle. Now they're back to conserving electricitiy, hoarding food and water and dreading the sound of fighter jets.

And still, as a journalist, I have to say that I'm a little disappointed I missed my front-row seat to history. Many of you have scoffed when I said such things. I'm not saying it just to shock you, I really do wish I had the opportunity to see the destruction this world can wreak. It's what drives me to continue my pursuit of journalism because it's so important that these stories reach the rest of the world.

That said, I'm still anxious to return next summer to get a firsthand look at what's happened. My parents, on the other hand, may get an earlier peek. A few weeks ago they booked a trip to Beirut in October. They're haven't canceled their tickets yet. As my dad said: "October is a long time away."


tech nerd

OK, it's official. I'm a total dork about wifi.

I've spent the last few days in coffee shops editing a friend's book because there are way too many distractions at home -- namely the fact that I can surf the Web instead of paying close attention to Erin's fabulous essays on her time in Paris.

But still...the Internet beckoned. So at Starbucks I tried logging into their network, only to find that T Mobile's bullshit $6/hour fee was enough to convince me to focus only on the essays. Yesterday I tried Gypsy Den, but those dirty hippies can't keep the signal strong enough at The Lab, so once again I got a lot of work done.

Today, however, was a Golden Day. Fabulous Diedrich's Coffee has FREE WIFI!

I am officially a cyber dork.

As I finished the last of Erin's book -- see! I wasn't too distracted! -- I happily announced my newfound wifi paradise to anyone and everyone on G Talk (who probably cursed me as they worked the day away.)

I feel almost as dorky as my dad when we first got wifi at home and he sat outside on the patio giddy that he could play his weird online French card game with a cigar in one hand and the laptop in the other. (Sorry, Dady, but it's a really funny image and I had to use it.)

With my work behind me, I'm headed up to Northern California this weekend to see friends, catch a baseball game (yay Christie!), attend a wedding (what else do I do?), teach a journalism class (to high school kids -- it'll be fun!), and enjoy one last drive up and down this Golden State before I escape to the East Coast.

I'm looking forward to the long, peaceful drive. After nine weeks of constant companionship on what was supposed to be a solo tour (no complaints about my travel buddies, but still...) I'm looking forward to some alone time.

We'll catch up when I get back.


sarah and lev got married

You saw it here first. Those crazy kids finally got married. And I gotta say, despite being a total wedding grouch lately, it was a great wedding. They were happy, our friends were happy, it was a beautiful day and the ceremony overlooked downtown Long Beach from across the water and the Queen Mary was just off to the side. Despite the fact that it was roughly a gazillion degrees by the time Sarah walked down the aisle, it was still a great day to get married.

We boogied and toasted and then went home for an afternoon nap before heading out again with the newlyweds for a pitcher of beer in downtown Long Beach.

Another wedding down, two more go this summer.

While the nuptials were a highlight of my weekend there was another, more momentous occasion for the adolescent girl trapped inside my psyche: I finally got to see Pearl Jam in concert. Needless to say, all my teenage fantasies came true. (Well, not *all* of them. Eddie Vedder didn't ask me to marry him. *sigh*) It was probably one of my top 5 concerts of all time, second only to seeing the Pixies reunite at Coachella in 2004. They played "Jeremy," "Alive," "Black," all my favorites. I was giddy and couldn't stop jumping up and down, much to the amusement of Brad, who happily accompanied me to the show in the crappy, crappy Forum. I'm all for Pearl Jam's brand of playing the least commercialized venues, but the Forum is nothing more than a hole. I still don't get how the Lakers played there for years. In short: Don't go to a concert there unless you enjoy drowning in a sea of people while waiting in a 200-chick-deep line for the ladies' room. Yuck.

That's all for this week. Thursday I head up north to see some friends and another wedding (of course.) Looking forward to a nice long drive on my own.


it's not you, it's me

If you've been wondering where I am, it's not that I'm getting married. It's that *everybody* else is. On Saturday I'll be attending my third all-Register wedding of the year. (Number 4 is next Saturday in Morgan Hill for Sam and Jit Fong.)

I'm not comlaining. I adore Sarah and Michael and I'm very excited to see them get married, but this is getting to be insane. Remember my last post about loafing about at home? Now those free moments are spent shopping for wedding presents, wrapping wedding presents, writing wedding cards, shopping for a shirt that won't look ridiculous with the white skirt I'm wearing to the weddings. Yeah, I'm a bit over it.

It was nice a few years ago as I watched the first few of my friends get married. There was a certain novelty to it. We were Grown Up. Now, I scroll through the online wedding registries looking for a reasonably priced gift an unemployed friend can give to two friends who she REALLY DOES LIKE. (Seriously: I'm not complaining about my friends, just the onslaught of all things ivory and tulle.)

Thank goodness for small miracles. My kindly friends have not asked me to participate in any of their nuptials. I'll be reading a passage from the Old Testament at Sarah and Michael's ceremony and I'm more than happy to do it.

Ah well. I'll get them back someday when I look like this:

Well...maybe not EXACTLY like that. That was from Sarah's bachelorette party, where we were all required to wear bridesmaid uniforms...errrr...dresses from years past. This was toward the end of the night after a few drinks and an ill-advised kamikaze. Still, I think I look like a beeeeyouuuuutiful princess. No?


my life post-vacation

So I know it's been a while since my last post, but I've been trying to figure out what's next with this blogging thing. And, frankly, it's not like there's much in my life to report at this point. My days are spent:

1. Waking up late
2. Drinking coffee
3. Reading the LA Times (don't get the Register anymore -- woohoo!)
4. Going for a run in the sweltering heat (which is surprisingly satisfying)
5. Possibly laying out at the pool and reading (currently: "Prague" by Arthur Phillips)
6. Coming home to memorize the Craigslist housing ads (searching for DC housing from Cali SUCKS.)

That's about it. In the evenings I'm usually off grabbing a beer with the friends I'd been missing the last two months or watching Netflixed flicks (recently viewed: Must Love Dogs -- sucker for John Cusack, Everything is Illuminated -- Jonathan Safran Foer is a crazy dude, and March of the Penguins -- baby penguins are AWESOME.)

Oh! And I bought my ONE-WAY ticket to Washington yesterday. I land at Dulles on Aug. 18. Can't wait!

To be honest, this anticipation is what's really killing me. I'm bored and frustrated and eager to get started at Georgetown. As such, I wish I was already there, moved in and started with classes. Of course, I'm no idiot, and I know better to enjoy the last truly free weeks I have left. Still...it'd be nice to end this waiting game.

This is all my long-winded way of saying the blog will stay the same for better or for worse (read: so long as mom and dad will continue reading it -- Hello, parents!)

The title still works: Where is Eleeza?

Right now? Back home, in her childhood bedroom, eagerly anticipating the Next Step.


greece pictures...finally

Sorry it's taken me a while. I've been feeling a bit lazy in the week since I've been home. But now I'm definitely settled back into SoCal life. You know you're back in Southern California when you agree to drive to Santa Monica for lunch with your best friend at a vegan restaurant and as you're walking in she tells you: "I once ate next to David Duchovny." The nachos (sans real fromage) were actually quite tasty. Sadly, David Duchovny was nowhere to be found.

On to the pix!

Our first glimpse of the Acropolis on our first night in Athens.

Me and Fred atop the Acropolis after the previous night's one-two punch of Dom Perignon compounded with red wine. In case you're wondering, *never* a good idea.

The Parthenon rocks.

The fallen column at the Temple of Olympian Zeus.

Had to find the Armenian church, which of course was a 10-minute walk from the fabulous Fresh Hotel.

Moi at the ancient agora (read: shopping center).

The fabulous Fresh Hotel.

Our first island paradise: Mykonos

There are no words.

I told him that if he ordered a "Miami Vice" cocktail, I was going to put a picture of it on the blog. Consider yourself warned, my friend.

Me and the Berkeley girls on the best bar balcony in the world at Katerina's in Mykonos' Little Venice at sunset.

The view from our room at the Alkioni Hotel on Naxos.


Santorini sunset from our hotel.

Our adorable little Hyundai. You can almost hear it chanting: "I think I can...I think I can...I think I can..."

Santorini's red beach.

The village of Oia.

Sitting above the main town of Fira. No, I'm not naked. I'm just wearing a tube top.

Our hotel at the edge of the world.

One of the two propellers that miraculously lifted us away from Santorini to Athens on my final journey home.


this about covers it

A map of all the countries I've visited. The Russian part is a bit deceiving, seeing as how I had 6 hours in Red Square and hence nearly all of the Asian continent is colored in, but still, I like how it looks.


more pictures from the edge of the world

As promised, here are some more pictures. These are from my two weeks in Syria and Lebanon. If you want to see more of any of these, just let me know and I'll mail you the whole album.

The golden bust is of late Syrian President Hafez Assad at the entrance to a military museum in Damascus.

If you can zoom in you can read what Syrians really think of the U.S. In short: They're not too happy with us.

Spices in Damascus' old covered market.

The road to hell (aka Iraq) is to the right.

Avo and I at Palmyra. Behind us is the ancient city's main street, which were once lined with shops.

The cliffs of Maalula, a Christian village in Syria, where they speak Aramaic. The Virgin Mary is popular here -- see the top of the cliff? There's a church near there that was likely originally constructed more than 1,000 years ago.

Little Miss Arine on her fourth birthday in her new flashing-lights scooter.

Sossi, Arine and me at the entrance to Salaadin's castle.

Looking out to the castle from inside one of the towers.

The view from the castle.

Hafez Assad's coffin, which is in...

..this massive mausoleum. It houses his coffin in the center and his son in one corner.

The moat (a moat! awesome!) at Crac Des Chevaliers, the largest of the crusader castles.

Me, after climbing up a narrow, winding stairway to the top of the princess' tower, the tallest tower in the Crac.

You've heard of the Knights of the Round Table? Yeah, that's the round table. Sadly, no pizza though.

Blatant McDonald's ripoff, a short drive from the Crac. I'm lovin' it.

Dinner with the fam my first night in Beirut.

The coffin of Rafik Hariri -- the former Lebanese prime minister who was assassinated last year and whose murder led to all the latest madness in Lebanon -- is underneath all that tentage and security. In the middle of downtown Beirut, no less.

The new downtown Beirut. This was all Hariri's initiative.

Old vs. new Beirut

Beirut at sunset from Jounieh.

My 17-year-old cousin Varak took control of my camera at dinner.

Obligatory hookah picture courtesy of 13-year-old cousin Hrag, who also took control of my camera.