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!