Saturday, January 20, 2007

Life, liberty and the pursuit of an affordable gym within walking distance

So far the DC experience has been a good one. It's remarkable how easily one adjusts to living in an apartment, getting up at normal hours and taking a subway to work everyday, when the routine over the last two and a half years revolved around Dillon Hall, sleeping in and walking to class ten minutes before it began. Also, SDH is deeply grieved, although I feel like my ghetto cooking abilities are evolving nicely[i].

The apartment complex itself couldn't be located in a nicer area, as we're, again, directly next to the zoo on Connecticut Ave. There's a metro stop - inherently crucial to getting around DC - five minutes away. Adams Morgan, one of the better bar districts in town, is a ten to fifteen minute walk away. There's all sorts of stores, pubs and restaurants lining Connecticut, so while we're a little bit away from downtown, it's a great location.

The apartment itself isn't the most glamorous, but it's spacious - compared to the double quad - and all of the ND people are on one floor, along with some James Madison students, some Butler guys – one has arrived, we like him - and a trio of Houston kids at the end of the hall. I didn't really know anyone well that was coming here from Notre Dame, but I realize now that I lucked out in regards to those that are here. My main concern – I wouldn’t have anyone to go drinking with/hang out with on the weekends the quality of my alcoholic friends back in South Bend – was quickly absolved, and when you combine that with the fact we spent Thursday night watching The Office, Scrubs, The OC and “MTV Reality Programming”, we’re all going to get along just fine[ii].

(I also haven’t told my roommates that the one dictatorial move I’m making with the television being mine is that Tuesday nights at 9:00, no matter what else is on, there’s an appointment between me, CW23 and Veronica Mars. They’re going to judge, but such is the tribulation of appreciating Kristen Bell.)

So the living conditions excelled anything I anticipated, but there was the matter of the internship as well. I got in at Nightline and the Wizards, so if Meet The Press didn’t impress, I was going to be doing some serious style regretting for the majority of the semester. As a plus, the commute takes me a little less than thirty minutes, and that’s with four or five blocks of writing thrown in for effect.

Thankfully, the internship seems like it’s going to be a blast. As previously mentioned, I get to suit up every Sunday, but there seems to be a lot of other benefits on the horizon. As cliché as it sounds, everyone there is really, really nice. The building houses part of the MSNBC news division, The Chris Matthews Show (not Hardball, that’s at the studio closer to the Capitol) and the local news, so it’s a rather labyrinthian set-up, but I think I’m going to figure out my way around. The Meet The Press team is actually rather small, as it’s a suite on the third floor with two researchers, four producers and our crack team of interns. Tim Russert is also the DC NBC News bureau chief, so his office sits down next to the main newsroom, filled to the brim with Buffalo Bills memorabilia.

The best part of my job, other than the Sunday mornings I’m working I get to be the official greeter of all the guests – the odds of me meeting our next president? Somewhere around 85%, I’d imagine – is the fact that I get to be immersed in the ultimate collection of American political history over the last half century. There’s tapes dating back to the 1950’s, with coverage from JFK’s assassination up to the Lewinsky scandal and on into the 2008 presidential hopefuls. There’s also newspaper clippings for every major (and minor) politician in Washington, clipped from the daily papers for who knows how long and filed away. I’m sure there’s a more polished nucleus of information elsewhere in the city – CIA, perhaps? – but with a constant stream of television news, a collection of online reviews printed out daily and two dozen newspapers to be sorted through every morning, there’s a lot for me to sink my teeth into.

There’s also the opportunity already received by the interns that arrived before me to go out and cover events on our own. They’ve already been to a gala for the retiring Israeli ambassador and a press conference on Capitol Hill where they received swanky press passes. Although the day-to-day stuff in the office isn’t overly impressive, Sunday mornings, the out-in-the-field stuff and the general awesomeness of everyone that works there – we’re all going out for drinks and appetizers Wednesday – makes up for it.

With the apartment and internship situation settled, the only obstacle in my way was figuring out where the heck I was going to work out. This might seem like a simple problem to some of you, but I’ve either had equipment in my house or a free ID swipe away at school for the last two decades, so finding a gym I had to pay for was a challenge. After realizing “Free” wasn’t an available price, we signed up at the Gold’s Gym near Van Ness, thinking we could just walk there.

As it turns out, two Metro stops away translates to about a forty minute walk. That wasn’t going to fly, nor was paying three bucks on the subway every time we went. Thanks to my cointern and neighbor from James Madison, I found out that the Marriott across the street actually had an affordable program to use their insanely nice fitness center. Reasonably priced – it’ll come to about $150 for the semester – and only a five minute walk away, I’m about as settled in as I’m going to be.

Some other things I’m loving about my current situation:

  • Our proximity to a NBA team. Since we’ve been here, the Wizards knocked off the Utah Jazz with an Agent Zero buzzer-beating three on Monday and held off the feisty Knicks with a Caron Butler dunk with 2.2 seconds left, then went down to Orlando and laid it to their division rival Magic, moving into a tie for first in the East. They play the Suns on Tuesday night and, get this, there’s ten dollar tickets if you have a student ID. Considering that during our semester here the Cavaliers, Magic, Spurs, Lakers and Heat will all be coming to the Verizon Center, this deal might be used quite a bit.
  • As stated earlier, we’re right next to Adams Morgan, which is apparently one of the best bar districts in DC. We went out there for a bit on Monday night, and it seems like Bourbon Lite, which is a good thing. I’ll really only be able to go out on Friday nights and maybe every other Saturday, so it’s good there are venues close to make it count.
  • The fact that a lot of us work Friday and there’s a slew of Happy Hour places for us to go and complain about our unpaid, strenuous jobs while wearing fancy clothes and coming right off the Metro. Murphy’s, a local pub where we watched the Notre Dame hoops team forget how to play defense against Villanova, has twenty-five wings and two dollar Bud Lights during their couple hours of cheap bliss.
  • We’re right by the zoo! There are panda bears not five minutes away from me! How many of you – silence, Pete Winter and your China – can claim that? You can watch them, however.

  • My Lobbying professor runs some of the graduate programs at George Washington, and one of those degrees is something like “campaign managing”. I never thought of doing something like that before, but I can imagine it would be a pretty fun thing to do. Definitely worth looking into.

[i] I haven’t actually made anything beyond Easy Mac, but I’m really comfortable about my abilities to put together Hamburger, Chicken and Tuna Helpers, and to grill things. By the time this semester is over, Anthony Bourdain is going to have me on the phone to be his sous chef.

[ii] There’s a group here excited about Lost, and while that makes my skin crawl and while they’ll probably hate me for my “Flashback within a flashback within a flashback” comments, this isn’t anything I haven’t had to deal with before, thankfully.

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