My Trip to the Big Apple

Hey folks, I’d apologize for not blogging in so long, but then, I figure it’s mostly happening because I’m busy having all sorts of adventures and experiences out here. So… clearly my ‘droughts’ on here are a good thing, as they give me lots of incredible experiences to talk about =)  On a related note, it’s always funny to me when I do put up a new post, because I have to go back through my budget excel sheet to figure out what exactly y’all have and haven’t heard about.

Anyway, as far as I can tell from here, the last thing up on the blog was about Shamrockfest and the National Cathedral. The next big thing after that was my Aikido test, which I’d been looking forward to for quite a while. The test happened on Friday night, and all of us 5th, 6th, 7th, and 8th Kyu students rocked it. The next day was the testing for the 4th-1st Kyu students, and I took a bunch of pictures which you can see here and here. (sorry– there are literally hundreds of photos and it would take forever to sort through them [again--already discarded a bunch] and insert into the post.) Following their test, we grabbed food at an Indian Restaurant close to the Dojo which was fantastic =)

That evening I got on photoshop and did a celebratory “gratuitous picture of myself- collage” which I’ll throw in so you can enjoy the eye candy ;)

Aikido: Good for the Mind, Spirit, and Body

Aikido: Good for the Mind, Spirit, and Body

After Aikido tests, the next week flew by in anticipation of my trip to New York, where I planned to meet up with Hailley and Courtney– my ‘trailblazing trio’ friends from the Lake District May Term last summer. I took work off on that Thursday and boarded the Megabus, headed to the Big Apple.

My first Megabus experience was pretty uneventful: basically it was like one of the band trips from highschool–long, uncomfortable, and a seat partner who was trying to fall asleep on my shoulder. That last part was a little awkward though, because I didn’t know the other person. Anyway, eventually I made it into the city where Courtney and Hailley met me right at the bus stop. We took a quick ride on the metro back to the hotel they’ve been staying at during the term, dropped off my bag, and then headed to a Thai restaurant for some delicious food.

Refreshed and energized, we decided to risk the slightly cloudy weather to check out the Brooklyn Bridge. The detour turned out to be totally worth it– many good pictures were taken, and walking the bridge was a pretty incredible experience.

Yours truly =)

Yours truly =)

Tall Buildings!

Tall Buildings!

 

Best Friends =)

Best Friends =)

The Trailblazing Trio

The Trailblazing Trio

 

Perspective

Perspective

Bustling Brooklyn Bridge

Bustling Brooklyn Bridge

 

And the other.

And the other.

Looking off to one side...

Looking off to one side…

 

Skyline-- Note Lady Liberty in the corner

Skyline– Note Lady Liberty in the corner

'Merica =)

‘Merica =)

 

After all the walking and subway-riding, we headed back to the hotel and took it easy for a few hours. That evening, I hit up a bar called “The Dead Poet” with Whitney– another friend from Coe. There we enjoyed literary-themed cocktails and met up with Whitney’s friend Jen Grinnells– a musician she met while serving on the Student Activities Committee at Coe. After a very long day of traveling and walking, I dropped off to sleep fairly quickly when we headed back to the hotel.

Friday the girls all had to work during the day, so I was sent off early with instructions to entertain myself. The weather was fantastic– a far cry from the gloomy forecast my iPod suggested was likely when I checked ahead back in D.C. I soaked in the sunshine as I headed towards Central Park– a short walk from the girls’ hotel– and spent a nice hour wandering through the park itself, snapping lots of photos as I went.

View across Central Park

View across Central Park

Sunny NYC

Sunny NYC

 

More 'Merica =)

More ‘Merica =)

Castle in the Park

Castle in the Park

 

Looking back at the Castle

Looking back at the Castle

View from the Castle

View from the Castle

 

My next stop was the Metropolitan Museum of Art, where my Smithsonian Badge got my in for free, and I spent the next 5-6 hours. Seriously, there’s something about exploring a museum on your own that really gets me. I wandered through exhibit hall after exhibit hall, transported from Ancient Egypt to Medieval Europe to the Arabian Nights… and then the paintings. Sooo many amazing works of art, and I tried to document them all! Below are some of my favorite shots from my time there. (Sorry, really all of the photos from there are pretty good, so it was hard to cut many out haha.)

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After my afternoon at the Met, I met up with my friend Emily, another Coe Alum, at the Strand Bookstore. She had visited Maryland a few weeks prior for a Quidditch Tournament, and it was great to see her again. We browsed around the shelves and picked up a few things, then got sucked back in with 45 cent paperbacks they had outside. As we walked away with bags loaded full of books and Strand merchandise, I agreed with Emily’s assessment of Strand as a “wonderful and dangerous” place. =)

We enjoyed some authentic NYC Ramen (very different from your average “broke college student ramen”) and met up with Hailley and Whitney back at the hotel. Then it was off to a restaurant called Bourbon Street for some drinks and late night appetizers. Worn out once again from a long day of sightseeing, picture-taking, and walking, I dropped off to sleep quickly upon our return to the hotel.

On Saturday Courtney, Allison, and I all grabbed brunch at a NYC diner, then Courtney and I headed off to explore the Highline. The Highline is an old above-ground railway track that was recently converted to a sort of pedestrian walkway. It offered an interesting perspective on the city, as well as, you guessed it, loads more interesting photographs. Here, as elsewhere throughout NYC, I was really struck by the diversity of people and cultures that populate the city. It’s a very different sort of “feel” from D.C., where things seem to be somewhat sadly split between “White-successful-businessperson” and “homeless” without a lot of in between.

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After the Highline, we grabbed some delectable brownies (for sustenance) and headed to the Guggenheim Museum. Which… honestly, was a little disappointing. Perhaps I”m not artsy enough, but paintings that someone has done with their feet (obviously very abstract haha), a photograph of someone burning all their artwork, or most memorably a short film featuring a closeup of repeated towel-slapping on someone’s chest… yeah, those didn’t really do it for me. =)  Regardless it was a good experience, and there were a few bright spots of really fantastic art works. Also the architecture of the Guggenheim Museum was pretty fantastic, and worked well with an installation exhibit that was showcased at the time.

Looking Up

Another view

Another view

Looking up

 

Looking up

And again =)

Gutai: aka strange stuff =)

Gutai: aka strange stuff =)

 

Me and the Guggenheim

Me and the Guggenheim

Awesome Architecture

Awesome Architecture

 

Courtney and I left the Guggenheim and headed back to the Hotel, where I met up with Whitney and headed off to a play. We had “student rushed” tickets for a production of Much Ado About Nothing, and the performance was phenomenal. It was a little stressful trying to get to the theater– the subway train was super delayed, and then locating the place through all the visual assault of Times Square advertisements was a little tricky. Thankfully we made it just in time and had a couple minutes to get settled before the show began.

DSC_0475

Much Ado…

Afterwards, we grabbed some authentic NYC pizza (which I promptly devoured– lunch had been a brownie and a smoothie earlier in the day, and supper didn’t happen) and then headed back to the hotel for the night.

Sunday morning Courtney and I were up early again, indulging once again in a large brunch at an almost comically stereotypical NYC diner. After brunch, we headed towards the World Trade Center Memorial. Once again, many pictures were taken (after we got through the airport-style security) and we spent an hour or so wandering the site itself.

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We then left the site and pushed our way past street vendors trying to sell us commemorative programs (“You listened to my story! I’ll give you a great deal!”) back to the subway, headed for the National Academy of Art– yet another museum on my ‘list’. There, my Smithsonian badge got us in for free once again, but no photos were allowed inside. Needless to say I was itching to grab shots of all the incredible artwork in the museum, but I somehow managed to make it through without breaking the rules (too much). One of the most interesting exhibits we saw there was a short film where the artist had recruited around 15 people (“Hey do you want to pose for an art project? I’ll pay you $50!”) and then blasted them with fire-hose strength streams of water (“Surprise!”). The film was slowed down, and it was pretty comical to watch the slo-mo reactions as these folks were pummeled with water from either side.

After the Academy it was getting close to my bus departure time, so we grabbed a last meal with the rest of the NYC kids at the Shake Shack. I had a delicious burger with a fried, cheese-stuffed portabello mushroom on top of the regular patty, and of course, one of their trademark milkshakes =)  Then it was time for goodbyes and a (frantic) journey to reach the Megabus after the subway stopped 20 blocks from my intended destination. Luckily I made it, and ended up having a seat to myself for the long ride back to D.C.  Needless to say, it was a phenomenal weekend, and I’ll definitely be back to NYC sometime =)

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Shamrockfest and The National Cathedral

After the trip through the Capitol, I pushed through the rest of the week looking forward to Shamrockfest– an 8 hour, 40 band celebration that I had purchased tickets for about a month ago.

When Saturday March 16 rolled around, Wil and I headed to RFK Stadium– the parking lot there being the venue for Shamrockfest. On our way, we stopped at Popeye’s for some Cajun Shrimp, Fries, Chicken, and too sweet tea. When we first arrived, the party wasn’t exactly “hopping”, but as the afternoon went along people were drawn to the loud music, rides, and beer trucks. I didn’t bring my nice camera (seemed like a bad idea for some reason haha) but I snapped a few shots of the crowd as things were really going. Basically: it was a pretty rocking party, definitely worth the cost of the tickets =)

Off-main stage

Off-main stage

Looking back at the stadium

Looking back at the stadium

 

DJ Tent

DJ Tent

Main stage

Main stage

 

I left Shamrockfest around 6 and took a short nap–I’d won a happyhour that evening at a bar near George Washington University, and I wanted to be ready to celebrate. I met up with some CHIP friends at the bar, then went out later with my friend Mike from Aikido. I ended up crashing at Mike’s place in the Adams Morgan area, taking the metro back to the apartment on Sunday morning.

I’d actually planned on doing a St. Patty’s Day bar crawl with a group of fellow interns at the Smithsonian on Sunday, but I opted to visit the National Cathedral with Wil instead. We took the metro and then had a decent walk to get to the cathedral. The National Cathedral actually took about 80 years to complete– they built it in the ‘traditional style’ of European cathedrals, lengthening the process. Despite the long time to completion, however, the cathedral was stunning. Views of the main ceiling were slightly obscured by nets– placed to protect churchgoers from any falling stained glass after the destabilizing earthquake a couple years ago.

Wil and I wandered through the cathedral snapping pictures and enjoying the fantastic architecture. It was truly a fantastic journey, and we only got in trouble once! To be fair though– the staircase wasn’t marked as employees only…. Whoops! Actually our little excursion resulted in some of the best photographs I took there, so I’m not fussed. Here’s some architectural eye candy to end the post– enjoy! =)

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A Trip to the Capitol

If you think about it, the use of sand to keep time is a fairly apt metaphor. Tiny grains of sand flow past as a series nearly infinite individual moments, each inseparable from the larger stream. This process is well contained within an hourglass, but things get messy when removed from that enclosure.

Sand runs quickly between the fingers, misting out ethereally like strands of some long-forgotten magic. Some sand impacts directly below, but gusts of wind whip other parts of the stream out of sight, out of mind, out of memory.

Alright, I’ll be honest. I was just trying to use some poetic imagery to distract you from the fact that I haven’t blogged for 10 days?! So much for being back on the horse! In some ways though, I do feel like sand is an appropriate metaphor for my time out here– there are just a lot of gusts! I’ll treasure the memories I make out here forever, but not all of the parts will make it up onto the blog.

Anyway… I managed to work through the rest of last week alright, eventually making it to the greatest of days: Friday. During the CHIP Program, you are off from work every Friday, instead going out to some museum, restaurant, or speaker with the other folks in the program. Last Friday, we conned convinced our congressional interns to take us on a tour of the Capitol building.

I’d heard stories from Wil about how fantastic the inside of the Capitol building was, so I was excited to go check it out. We split into two groups– Iowa and everyone else– and headed down

Our first destination in the Iowa group was the senate building where Adam Koefed, another Coe student, has an internship. This building was ripe for photographs, so I snapped happily away as we wandered through–checking out the office where Adam works, and taking a ride on the special capitol subway system to get to the main building.

View from above

View from above

Mountains and Clouds Statue

Mountains and Clouds Statue

 

The Iowa Group!

The Iowa Group!

Sen. Harkin's Office

Sen. Harkin’s Office

 

Subway

Subway

Underground Tunnels!

Underground Tunnels!

 

Enjoying the View

Enjoying the View

Looking up!

Looking up!

 

 

 

 

When we reached the main building, we stopped by the Capitol Visitor’s Center to pick up passes for our visit, and then Adam began our tour proper. As we wove our way through the halls, Adam provided interesting background and historical information–much practiced over the course of his internship working in the capitol.

Capitol Visitor's Center

Capitol Visitor’s Center

Coming in!

Coming in!

 

Copy of "Justice"

Copy of “Justice”

The Golden Ticket!

The Golden Ticket!

 

Perspective shot

Perspective shot

Rare photo of Yours Truly-- touching the Center of Washington

Rare photo of Yours Truly– touching the Center of Washington

 

Where the judges sat.

Where the judges sat.

Ceiling Detail

Ceiling Detail

 

The Iowa group

The Iowa group

Perspective.

Perspective

 

Rotunda Detail

Rotunda Detail

Rotunda Ceiling

Rotunda Ceiling

 

View of the top

View of the top

Best tour guide!

Best tour guide!

 

And another one!

And another one!

Cool Chandelier

Cool Chandelier

 

Awesome.

Awesome.

More chandeliers!

More chandeliers!

 

 

 

 

Whispering Hall again

Whispering Hall again

The Whispering Hall

The Whispering Hall

 

After touring around most of the Capitol building, we stopped by and watched some of a session of the House of Representatives. It wasn’t super interesting, and sadly, they didn’t let you take pictures inside. We concluded our tour, then myself and the Texans (and a few others from the group) headed to Hill Country Barbecue: a Texas meat market/barbecue place that was pretty delicious. Wil had been talking about going there later in the evening for a country concert but luckily sadly we had to go in the afternoon instead.

Alright, this turned into sort of a monster post, so I think I’ll conclude here. Basically the rest of the weekend involved lots of Ultimate, Aikido, and all around awesomeness =)  Look for another post tomorrow evening about Wil and I’s visit to the National Cathedral!

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Catching Up!

Alright folks, last time we left off at the group trip to the Newseum on Friday, March 1. On Saturday, a friend of mine who graduated from Coe and now studies library science in New York was in the area for a Quidditch tournament. Wil and I set out Saturday afternoon to check it out, riding the metro to the very end of the green line, and then braving the freezing cold to walk from the station to the Quidditch fields. Unfortunately, my friend’s team wasn’t able to play, so we headed back through the cold somewhat disappointed. In case you’ve never seen Quidditch played (besides on the big screen) here are a few photos. Continue reading

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Back on the Horse

Hey folks,

Sorry it’s been so long, I’ve had great intentions of keeping a regular blog of my experiences out here, but I just haven’t really allocated enough time to it. So… just for you, an extra long, extra-full-of-pictures blog post! And for real, I’ll try to be a little more regular posting on here.

So, we when last ‘talked’, I was telling you about my progress through Aikido, and my trip through the East Building of the National Gallery of Art. Since then, lots more Aikido has been happening in my life, and I took a trip through the West Building (unfortunately most of the really cool exhibits didn’t allow photographs, so you’ll have to come visit to see them!)  And, I mean, I guess some other stuff happened, but we’ll start back there. =)  Continue reading

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Updates!

Hey folks,

Sorry it’s been so long between postings, things have really swung into gear here out in D.C. I’m trying to go to Aikido 5-6 days each week, and that wipes out my evenings pretty well. I’m loving it though– my earlier thoughts about Aikido have proven to be correct, and it’s been a great experience so far. I feel myself growing more flexible, becoming more balanced, and feeling more confident (although the falls I took this evening worked some of that away haha!) Regardless it’s been a great investment for me, and something I hope to continue for the rest of my life. Continue reading

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Weekend Wanderings II: Photos

Last weekend (yeah, I know, a week-old photos, sorry) I went wandering with some friends. We saw the White House, and then stopped by a fun used bookstore. Check out photos below =)

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Aikido!

Two summers ago, a good friend of mine studied Aikido over break. He said it was super fun, and I was honestly a little jealous of his martial arts mastery. I had wanted to study some kind of martial art ever since I’d seen the Karate Kid back in the day, and so I started looking at places in the DC area shortly after I decided to do the CHIP program.

Aikido is a primarily defensive martial art, exported from Japan in around 1950. It was first developed by Morihei Ueshiba, and it means (loosely translated) “The Way of the Harmonious Spirit.” The basic premise behind the discipline is to meet, and then counter your opponent’s moves with minimal effort [citation].

Anyway, I had done some research on different Aikido dojos around the Capitol Hill area before I came out here, and so I signed up for an introductory course at DC Aikido to see if it was something I’d be interested in. After two lessons, I was hooked, and I decided to make the cost fit into my budget. Continue reading

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Jazz at the Atlas

When I visited DC last spring, I went to an incredible hip hop dance recital at the Atlas Performing Arts Center. Wednesday, I was able to attend a concert there by the Carol Morgan Jazz Quartet.

My friend Gill (pronounced “Jill”) and I headed towards Atlas at 7:45-ish. I had grabbed some Mexican food with Wil and Grant, and there was a minor snafu while trying to print the tickets, but we arrived just before the concert started.

The Carol Morgan Jazz Quartet featured Matt Wilson, Joe Frahm, Martin Wind, and of course, Carol Morgan. Although Morgan headlined the band on trumpet, I actually found the other three members (on drum set, tenor sax, and bass respectively) much more engaging musicians. Perhaps I’ve been spoiled by previous experiences with fantastic trumpet players like Al Naylor (trumpet professor at Coe and occasional guest in the jazz band) but her performance wasn’t quite as compelling as the other band members. Continue reading

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Takin’ Care of Business

Well folks, at the end of my second week, I can say that I am well and truly ‘takin care of business’. I’ve got an official badge, a daily routine, and I’m really enjoying the whole experience at the Office of Policy and Analysis.

Right now I’m working on an internal project for the Smithsonian– a study of how people view and utilize the Office of the Chief Information Officer. All of the surveying has been done already; my primary responsibilities have been sorting through and analyzing the results. So spreadsheets. Lots and lots of spreadsheets. It doesn’t sound super glamorous, but I’m learning a lot about statistics and research techniques– the applied stuff, not just crap out of textbooks. Continue reading

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