Thursday, May 27, 2010

Farewell Washington (for now)

Another back-dated post - my apologies to posterity.

May 27 was my last day living in DC. I had decided a few months ago that I would spend my summer before going to Italy in sunny San Diego. The reasoning was that my internship with UNHCR ended at the end of May and I had 5 west coast weddings and a graduation this summer. Rather than fly back and forth from DC, I decided to just stay in San Diego and save some plane flight money.

I finished up at UNHCR (I will miss them all extremely) said my goodbyes to the United Friends and got on a plane, flying out of DC with a lot less luggage and a lot more experience than when I flew in last August. Thanks DC. It was a great time, but I won't say goodbye because I'll be back in August for pre-term classes and back again in 2011 for my second year at SAIS.

So, until then DC, au revior!

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Washington National Opera Ball

Ok, ok. This happened a while ago so I'm back-dating the post. Usually if I take too long to write about something, I'll just not post, but THIS WAS SERIOUSLY ONE OF THE COOLEST THINGS I'VE DONE IN DC.

My friend RuthAnn works for the Washington National Opera (heck of a job, isn't it?). Anyways, as her only friend who owned a tux, she asked if I'd be interested in accompanying one of her co-workers to their annual Opera Ball. Let's pause for a second. This is a 102% legit ball - like Cinderella style with receiving lines and rich people. If I told the whole story chronologically, this post would be way to long, so I'll just go with highlights.

My date, Jude: A beautiful, smart and funny girl who can shmooze and network like an aristocratic tornado. And she's French.

The Russian Embassy: The ball was hosted by the Russian Federation. As a friend of the staff, I helped check in VIPs and hangers-on at the front gate where I made friends with a big Russian security guy in a suit named Sergei. I'm pretty sure he had a gun. Inside the ball, they had guys dressed like some kind of Russian nobility with giant beards and they had a whole room that they turned into a woodland scene reminiscent of Peter and the Wolf.

The Wealth: This gig was straight money. Jude and I went up to the champagne bar and asked for some champagne. The response? "What kind? We have six." "Um, how about Dom Perignon?" Dom Perignon was no problem because they had a million bottles of it. Also caviar. Also ice sculptures of Russian bears, holding real handles of Russian vodka. At one point, we found ourselves standing outside the Russian Embassy doors smoking $25 cigars with a millionaire. He heard I was going to SAIS. "Oh SAIS? I used to be on their board. That was fun. Maybe I'll do it again. I AM SO RICH."

DC Celebrities: Washington celebrities are like Hollywood celebrities, except they have less plastic surgery. Ruth Bader-Ginsburg, John Roberts, Japanese Ambassador Ichiro Fujisaki.

In summary. It was an amazing night. My hugest thanks to the amazing Jude who allowed me to be her date. We had a blast.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Past, Present, Future BBQ

Last Saturday, after spending the day getting slightly sunburned at embassies, I brought a crowd of people back to my house bearing BBQ vittles. My DC buddies, the United Friends also showed up and we enjoyed an evening of darts, tasty margaritas, food and fun.

As the evening wound into the night, everyone was getting along swimmingly, and I realized that I had really really good friends from my past (Stanford roommates and friends), my present (the UF which adopted me into their DC shenanigans), and my future (the really cool SAIS dudes that I'm convinced will make some great memories in Bologna next year). AND THEY ALL GOT ALONG WITH EACH OTHER!

The night ended off with a dance party, some closet-raiding for costumes and a big smile on my face because my life rocks.

Sunny Embassy Romp!

So this weekend my college roommate Matt and two other college friends Jill and Lori came down from New York to visit me. How cool is that?

Totally independently, another old roommate from Nacho House days, great friend and overall good guy Buster was taking a cross country roadtrip that happened to end up in DC this weekend as well.

This weekend was also the weekend that the European Union decided to get all hospitable on my city and open up all of its embassies for tours, events and swag. A bunch of DC friends, including the SAIS mini-mafia and my friend Jimmy were planning on hitting up the embassies.

Matt, Lori, Jill and I walked to the Bulgarian embassy first. The Bulgarians didn't have any free stuff, but they did have a giant exhibit about how they didn't really help perpetrate the Holocaust.

Outside, we saw the SAISers and we decided to meet up later at the Belgian embassy (they apparently had beer).

In search of free stuff, we bee-lined toward the Irish Embassy, which was giving out free reusable cloth bags and refreshments. After a Disneyland-esque wait, we got our free bags and decided to pass up the line inside the embassy for food.

On our way up embassy row to the Belgian embassy, we passed the British embassy. In front of the embassy they had a live band playing covers of British rock songs. Right as we passed, they broke out in a pretty sweet rendition of Free's All Right Now, so we had to stop and dance, obviously. No one else was dancing or singing along. Just staring at us.

Finally arriving at the Belgian embassy, we realized it was were we should have been the whole day. The long line was periodically interrupted with different booths handing our Belgian waffle cones, chocolate, juice and other tasties. At the end of the line was a giant table with 3 or 4 different types of Belgian beer in little cups. We each took a few and sat out on the lawn of the embassy in the warm DC sun and enjoyed the heck out of life.

On the way back we decided to have an impromptu bbq at my house, so the college kids and half of the SAISers came back to my house after stopping to buy some meat for a BBQ...

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Flip Into Student Mode

This week I started my online Principles of Economics course. Why am I starting classes for SAIS in May? Well, there's a story.

My junior year at Stanford, I decided to take Principle of Economics out of interest. Because I was in the middle of a busy quarter, I took the pass/fail grading option so I could just learn without having to stress too much about getting an A. By the end of the quarter, I forgot that I had done this, studied hard and got an A on the final. On my end of quarter transcript, I was surprised and slightly amused to find that I had received a P instead of my expected A.

Flash forward three years and I was applying to SAIS, which is a very economics focused school. One of the big pre-requisites for applying was a B or higher in Principles of Economics. I realized that I would have to take it again. If you read my blog, you know that I took Principles of Macroeconomics last fall at George Washington and did well because I was competing against undergrads in a class I had already taken. Before matriculating to SAIS, I still need Microeconomics, so I'm taking an online class offered through SAIS that started on Monday and goes until mid-July.

Although I've already taken the class, it'll be good to brush up and get back in student mode. Plus, taking a class this way is super futuristic, and I love the future.