Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Departing Days (Pt. 2)

Picking up from where I left off...

Dinner with HR (May 19, 2009)
As is tradition, one of the ladies in Human Resources takes each group of PAs out to dinner at some point during their stent at Council. Because of the craziness that is work with weird schedules, our group didn't find time for the outing until the very end of the Spring. It was mine and a few others' first time at Mongolian Barbecue, which happens to be a very cool experience. It's kind of hard to explain the process, but each person is allowed to pile whatever raw vegetables, meat, sauces, and spices into one bowl, and then the chefs cook it on a hibachi grill right in front if your eyes. It's the coolest thing ever; being creative with designing your own dish, but be careful not to be tooooo creative or you'll end up with a spicy mess that's too flavorful to consume! ...hehe.

My LAST group! (May 20-22, 2009)
Finally, finally, finally, I made it through my last group as a Wonders of Washington Program Assistant. I do have to say that it is much easier working with one bus versus two, three, five, or more. For the first (and last) time, I finally had a bus driver who actually knew their way around the city. By this point, though, so did I. lol. At least it was one less stressor on the job that week. For the most part, everything went according to planned. There are always minor tweaks in the schedule, but the kids saw everything except for one monument, so that was good. I will say that this group of kids was very critical of everything they saw in DC...not necessarily in a negative way, but rather they used critical thinking skills to really analyze what they were seeing and how they thought/felt about it. Sometimes their comments gave off negativity, but I really feel like it was more of an analytical thought than expression of a poor experience. In the end, I think the experience was still a good one, so that's what's important.

Memorial Day Weekend (May 22-25, 2009)
I was a little bummed about missing out on a weekend of camping with my family, but I had purposely purchased my ticket home for after the Memorial Day Weekend. From friends who previously lived at the Center during this time of the year, I knew there were many exciting events in DC that weekend, and I wanted to be a part of it all. I mean, really, when else would I have the chance to experience something so powerful as a local...and the reality of it, was that I truly was a local. (For the time being, anyway.)
  • Friday --> Thankfully, I finished working with my group early enough that I had time to say goodbye to the boss and then cherish a few hours of solitude in WaHa by taking an afternoon nap. Our dearest former housemate, Miss Amanda Hale, came for a visit, as she'd moved out to the Columbia Heights neighborhood in DC two weeks before. To celebrate, the WOW kids, Amanda, and one of our new housemates, Zach, walked to Bethesda for the evening. It was definitely an interesting adventure, but I'll spare you all the details. lol. Thanks for visiting, Auntie Amanda; we truly enjoyed seeing you!
  • Saturday --> It was a much appreciated lazy day. I started packing and getting things together for my departure on Tuesday. Also, I accompanied Scott to Friendship Heights as he purchased some food items (stupid Clover Cafe has been closed a lot lately). That night, five of us went out to Comet, a pizza restaurant/bar/ping pong place down on Connecticut in DC. Amber, Rachel, Jake, Scott, and I really enjoyed the evening out. Ping Pong tables at a restaurant/bar is pretty much a genius idea, if you ask me. It makes for cheap entertainment, and good times--much more interesting than sitting around a table looking at each other, lol. We even hung out chatting late into the wee morning hours once we got back to the Center. It's too bad that I would be leaving so soon, or I would have thoroughtly enjoyed many more nights at Comet. booo.
  • Sunday --> Colin and I went to mass (for the last time) at St. Bartholomew's in Bethesda. When we got back to the Center, we realized the Cafe was closed for lunch, so we invited Nekeisha and Scott to lunch with us at the Karma Kitchen in Dupont Circle. Scott had just eaten, so he declined, but Nekeisha agreed to come along. :) The Karma Kitchen is an restaurant that goes by a different name during the week, serving traditional Indian food to its patrons. However, on Sundays, the restaurant is transformed into the "Karma Kitchen," a generous restaurant working off of the "pay it forward" idea. Everyone is served family-style, sometimes patrons make friends by sitting with strangers, and all of the staff are volunteers. The meal is free, with the idea that patrons will make individual donations as they feel appropriate, as well as commit to performing an good deed within the community. The food was very tasty, and I very much enjoyed the mission of the Karma Kitchen. Again, it's too bad that I wasn't able to experience this earlier during my time in DC, as it's something I would have enjoyed doing frequently.
  • That night, five of the housemates went out to the PBS Memorial Day Concert on the West Lawn of the Capitol. Angela, Jordan, Zach, Scott, and I metroed out there for the event, and I'm pretty sure we all thoroughly enjoyed the show (especially Angela, lol). I'd never seen the concert before (it's broadcasted annually on PBS), so I was kind of surprised at the variety--speakers, musicians, etc. I definitely sat in awe, realizing how special and lucky I was to be in our nation's capitol on such an important day. Surrounded by monuments, memorials, and endless locations of historical importance, I felt like the luckiest girl alive. Living in DC definitely has its moments, that's for sure. :)
  • Monday --> Continuing the celebration of Memorial Day/once-in-a-lifetime events, 9 of us from the house woke up earlyyyyyyyyyyy (5:45 a.m.) in the morning to catch the first bus of the day, in hopes of making it out to Arlington National Cemetary in time to get a seat at the annual Presidential Wreath Laying Ceremony. Nekeisha, Angela, Darielle, Megan, Jake, Jordan, Zach, Scott, and I got on the 6:30 a.m. bus toward Friendship Heights, but upon arrival, we realized that the metro had not opened yet for the day. Instead, we had to hang around and occupy ourselves for about 15 minutes before it opened, and another 20 minutes once we got inside and realized the first train wasn't set to arrive for a while. Once we finally made it out to Arlington, we immediately got in line for the Tourmobile ride to the ampitheatre. The line was long, but not nearly as long as it became as time went by. Thankfully, all nine of us were able to sit together, only twelve rows from where the President was set to speak. Sure, 12 rows may seem like a lot, but the ampitheatre is small, and so we truly had a great view of the speaking area. Ironically enough, we also made friends with a family sitting in front of us--their daughter is set to start graduate school at American University in the fall, and they'd traveled down to DC for the weekend to look for housing. Of course, we recommended life in Warren Hall. hehe. And, without going into too much, I just have to say that it was a great to put aside all opinions about the leaders of our country and just appreciate the experience of this historical event. It's just another once-in-a-lifetime event that I could not pass up, though I'm still waiting on the pictures from those lovely housemates of mine. ;-)
  • I spent the afternoon packing up all of my stuff, as I was set to leave DC the following morning. In the evening time though, I took a break from it all to enjoy dinner with our entire WaHa family, all 17 of us (er, minus a few who hadn't returned from their long weekends away). We'd somehow magically convinced Chef Z to give us some yummy food from the Cafe for preparation on our very own barbecue pit. Together, we all sat around the commons room eating and talking like old friends. Also, Darielle headed up a game where all of us submitted questions into a hat and then we passed the hat around the room, so everyone could take a question and answer it. Once everyone answered their question, we did another round. It was a fun bonding experience, and very interesting too. Later, after I'd finished packing completely, a bunch of us played Apples to Apples in the boys' room (Nick & Colin's). I think their ended up being 9 or so people who played by the end of it--Nick, Colin, Christy, Megan, Rachel, Darielle, Scott, me, and someone else... We all had a good time; it was definitely a good way to spend my last night in DC.
Looking back, though some times in DC were very tough, I learned a lot, and definitely developed a deeper understanding, appreciation, and love for the city. My WaHa kids will always hold a special place in my heart, as we have developed bonds that will exist forever. LoL, WaHa...that place has got some character. To think about all the talented and amazing people who have walked through those doors, and the great things that have emerged as a result, I can only say it is an honor for me to have been a part of that. We mourned the loss of our alumni board, replacing the tangible item with memories that can never be destroyed. All of us have been a part of something very special, and it is my hope that generations to come will understand just what that means. Who knows, maybe I'll even be a part of the Warren Hall family again someday. Until then, I'm going to appreciate the experiences I've had and look forward to the future, as more doors continue to open for me. I hope that life altering opportunities are ever-evolving, and who knows where I'll end up next.
For that, you'll all just have to stay tuned!
:) Lauren, the gypsy

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