Saturday, January 21, 2012

Frozen Phalanges its Cold Up Here!

So yeah, it gets really cold in DC. For the past few days the high has been in the 30’s. I’m sorry, did we say 30’s? That’s not a high, that’s a lesser of two colds. I believe the forecast should say “Today’s least cold temperature will be…” because 36 is not a high my friends. (Mom, it’s a good thing you’re coming in March, you definitely wouldn’t like it right now. Also you better be reading this. It falls under your duties of loving mother.) In related news I need to purchase gloves that allow me to use my touch screen phone. I use Google maps to find my way around most of the time but the phone is no good to me if I can’t touch the screen or my exposed fingers are too cold to function properly. Ok, I guess that’s about all anyone wants to hear of me complaining about the weather.

Something exciting from this week:  I started work at my field placement! I’ll be splitting my time between working in foster care and working in a residential group home for teenage girls. I’ve enjoyed my time in both so far. I think it’s going to take a little bit for the girls to warm up and trust me but hopefully I can prove myself to them without too much trouble. Fingers crossed!

A point of interest to the people I’m meeting in DC is my southern accent. Obviously I have an accent but I don’t consider mine to be that pronounced.  Most of the girls I’ve met at the dorm commented on it originally but didn’t say that much about it. Surprisingly, the one who seems to find it the most humorous is a girl from Scotland. She told me I have a great accent. Well if she loves it that much I’d be down to trade! I could totally rock a Scottish accent with these freckles and not red hair. The kids I meet have a funnier way of commenting on the way I speak. The other day one of our clients told me that I “look like Hannah Montana’s friend but talk like Hannah Montana”. Then tonight I was babysitting and one of the girls said “You talk like a cowboy, well cowgirl because you’re a girl.” The cool thing about DC is there are people from all over and everyone has some type of accent. I probably hear 3 or 4 languages being spoken around me on a daily basis. I love it!

Let’s see, anything funny from this week? Well two of the other students from my program and I decided we wanted to go see the movie Joyful Noise. Everyone else gave us such a hard time about it and couldn’t believe we would spend money to see this movie. We valiantly defended what would certainly be the comedic genius not to mention vocal showcase of Dolly Parton and Queen Latifah and headed off to the theater in Chinatown. Unfortunately no one else headed that way with those same intentions. When we got to the theater they had cancelled the showing time. I’m not sure why but it’s a safe bet it was lack of interest. We considered lying and telling them it was the greatest movie of all time. That we laughed, cried, and lost ten pounds. But we stuck to the truth and got cupcakes instead. DC is full of gourmet cupcake places. I need to learn to avoid them at all costs.

I’ve decided that Saturdays are going to be my tourist days. While I would love to stay in bed and catch up on sleep from the week I only have 4 months to explore and I want to make the best of it. I marked another museum off my checklist today. Museums are great right now because it’s A) it’s cold outside and B) a lot of them are free! Free entertainment for the win! Today’s museum was the Natural History Museum. Pretty stinkin’ cool if you ask me. My favorite attractions were the bones and mummies collection, dinosaur exhibit, the Hope Diamond, mammal exhibit, and the IMAX 3D movie “Tornado Alley.” Here are some pictures I took with my phone:

Elephant you see when you first walk in the main entrance

Mummy reamins

(Not really sure why this one is coming out kind of wonky)

 And last but certainly not least, stationary made from elephant poop.

One last thing before I wrap this up. I’d like to ask everyone to keep CJ Nash and his family in your thoughts and prayers. CJ was born prematurely and is struggling to learn how to eat on his own. If he can’t he’ll need to have surgery and his parents are hoping to avoid that. He’s come a long way but still needs to fight a little more. Thanks so much! Hope everyone has a wonderful rest of the weekend!

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Michelle Kwan & A Nearly Embarrassing Moment with the Amish

*Quick disclaimer about the last blog post: I was on some crazy adrenaline high when I wrote that and realize that parts of it aren’t even complete sentences. I barely understood it when I reread it later. Many apologies. I promise I don’t use recreational drugs…often*

Well I’ve been living in the city for over a week now and have been on some fun adventures. The week was so jam packed it feels as if I’ve been here more like a month. For the first part of last week I was running around getting finger prints and background checks finished. If you’re looking for a trustworthy employee I’m your girl. I’ve been cleared by the ABI, FBI, and DC Metro Police. Hooray for clean records! 

Wednesday we had orientation and our first class. Unfortunately my Wednesday didn’t get off to the best start. My alarm clock picked that particular morning to malfunction and I woke up an hour and 45 min after my desired time. I had to jump up, splash some water on my face, put my dirty hair into a ponytail and get dressed in only a few minutes. This was highly unfortunate considering I would be meeting my supervisors for the first time that day. All I could think of was my mom saying “Don’t leave the house looking like a Wild Indian” (Excuse the politically incorrect phrase. We love all peoples at my house. Promise)  I threw some cheerios and a diet coke in my purse and pulled myself together as best as possible.

We normally meet for class at the National Association of Social Workers national headquarters here in DC.  Due to some logistical issues involving an award presentation we were bumped from our normal meeting space into the Board of Directors Conference room!  I had fun pretending to be a big shot at the 10 foot conference table until they told us we could not eat or drink in there. There went my breakfast of champions.  Additionally we were trapped in the room for the next two hours due to security issues related to the awards ceremony. There better have been someone super important in that building for me to get through a whole morning with no shower, breakfast or caffeine. Needless to say I wasn’t exactly at my best when I met my supervisor. Hopefully she believes in second chances and I can wow her with my dazzling personality tomorrow at my first day. I fully intend to be showered and well caffeinated for that encounter.  

Since my first day is tomorrow I’ve been acting like a typical tourist and trying to cram in as many monuments and museums as possible. So far I’ve seen the Lincoln, Korean, WWII and Washington Monuments. I’ve also been to the National Gallery of Art and the American History Museum. The American History museum has definitely been my favorite so far. I got to see the original Star Spangled Banner! It is quite huge and awe inspiring. I got chills looking at it. I also enjoyed the First Ladies exhibit. The inaugural ball gowns were interesting. I’m not going to name any names but some of the First Ladies were quite solid. I would be super self-conscious if my dress was on display next to Nancy Reagan’s. She is tiny! Was tiny? Did she die recently? Sorry, I can’t remember and my internet is being too sketchy to Google it successfully. 

I also almost had a disastrously embarrassing moment at the American History Museum. There was an Amish family exploring the colonial exhibit of all things and I mistook them for a group of era-specific tour guides. I was about to approach them and ask about the exhibit when I realized there were children dressed in traditional Amish clothing as well. I figured it was against child labor laws for little Jebediah to work at the museum and stopped myself from asking for a demonstration of early colonial life. 

The second most fun thing was ice skating outside of the National Art Gallery. It was my first time to ice skate outside! I channeled my inner Michelle Kwan and skated with reckless abandon for about 45 minutes. Obviously I didn’t plan ahead or stretch before hand and am paying the price now. I think that was the first time I’ve ever used those particular hamstring muscles and I’m pretty sure I pulled my hip flexer. Ouch! Next time I pretend to be Michelle Kwan or Kristi Yamaguchi I’ll remember to stretch first. 

I guess that’s about it for now. Fingers crossed for my first day tomorrow! 

**I wrote this yesterday but the internet was out so I couldn’t post it. I went to my first day of work today and it was great! I’ll write more about it later this week.**

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Miss Graham Goes to Washington

I finally made it! I’m officially moved and settled into my new (although temporary) residence in Washington D.C. My sweet mom and wonderful sister drove me and all my belongings up from Alabama last Friday and Saturday. All 11 hours. We had a great time though so the trip didn’t seem too long. 

I knew my place was going to be close to Capitol Hill but I didn’t realize how close! As in I live directly across the street from the Senate building, a block away from the Supreme Court and two blocks away from the Capitol in one direction and the Library of Congress in the other. I look out my window and look into the office of the Hart building. Somehow I’m going to find out which senators those offices belong to. 

I’ve only been exploring the city for 2 days now but I’ve already learned a lot.  The metro is great and super easy to use…as long as you know which direction you need to go. Ha, I’m learning. Also the city moves at a faster pace but it takes longer to get things done. Take going to the grocery store for example. At home I would get in my car, drive six or seven minutes, arrive at the store, buy what I need and then drive home. Depending on how sidetracked I got or how many other stops determined how long a simple trip would take. Here, I walk to the metro station, ride to a second station where I transfer trains, ride to a third station, get off and walk to the store, figure out what is worth carrying back, and repeat the process for going home.  So it takes a lot longer to accomplish a simple task but I’m sure once I’m here for a few more weeks I’ll figure out how to better plan my days and budget my time. 

I’m also on a new diet. It’s called living in the city and walking everywhere. It’s a new experience and so far I love it. You don’t feel as guilty about stopping to get lunch when you know you’re going to possibly walk a mile to get there and back, if not more. 

Another thing that is different about DC as opposed to Alabama is the temperature and weather. Obviously it snowed here yesterday and didn’t back home but the temperatures feel different. I guess it has to do with the lack of moisture in the air but 35 degrees isn’t so bad here. In Alabama when its 35 degrees it feels like 23. Here, it feels like 35 I guess. Not nearly as bad, I shed my top layer as soon as I got outside. Of course, it could also be all that walking I’m doing. Anyway, I’m not shivering and hiding under a fort of blankets like I thought I would be. 

Tomorrow I meet my supervisors and have my first day of class. Then Thursday I have my first day of work. I can’t wait to see what my typical day will be like and meet some of my clients! 

Oh, and I have to end this with a huge ROLL TIDE ROLL! So proud of our boys for bringing home #14. In a shutout no less! Best defense in the history of Alabama? I think quite possibly so. Although I’m sure Gene Stallings would disagree with me. He’s pretty fond of the ’92 group. That’s it for now. Hope everyone has a great rest of the week!