Sunday, January 24, 2010

Washington, DC: Post 3

What a week here in DC. I was a bit sick for a few days, mostly, I think, due to my lack of sleep. I'm mostly over that now, which is so nice because being sick at the workplace is really miserable.

The week commenced wonderfully with a lunch at the JW Marriott. Kirk Smith, my uncle, and his wife, Joan, were in town for some conferences (Uncle Kirk is the Sheriff of Washington County). We met at the hotel and they treated me to lunch, which was completely undeserved. ate lunch. Fortunately my cousin Kenny, his wife Kristin, and his two kids, Bailey and Corbin were able to join us. It was such a treat. I haven't seen them for years and it was so good to be able to talk to them about life and reminisce about the past. What a wonderful family and what a great experience to see them here.

The State of the Union address was given this week by President Obama. I never had realized just how colossal this thing was to the nation. It was bigger than General Conference to Mormons! The metro was desolate as we hurried home to see the President speak. Needless to say, there were some pretty colorful calls the next day at work with frustrated Americans looking for someone to do something. For some reason people from all corners of the country call our office expecting huge results, and I do my best to act like I'm interested in what they are saying. And I always seal their satisfaction by saying, "I'll be sure to pass that on." And I do...sometimes.

I gave my first tour this week to two gentlemen from Utah. Even though I realized half way to the Capitol that I had forgotten some keys notes I had made on my desk, I didn't flinch with nervousness. I punched that tour right in the face as I explained that the Statue of Liberty could fit inside the Rotunda without touching the top and that an empty tomb lay underneath the midpoint of the city. No sweat.

On Friday the 26th I was privileged to go to the White House again. I had gone the week before with some friends from the U, so I knew what was offered there. This time was through my work, so Natalia (the other intern) and I went and stood in the freezing cold. Shortly after going through two security checkpoints, we were in the entrance of the east wing looking at pictures. We were told that President Obama would be taking off in Marine One, and he had invited us on the back lawn to see him take off. So that's what we did! It was bitter cold, and the hurricane-level winds from the helicopter made things even worse. Sure enough, 10 minutes later the President came walking out. He gave a few waves to the crowd of 50 or so, hopped on the plane and took off. It was pretty neat and I'm glad I didn't turn down my second opportunity in one week to go to the White House.

Yesterday it snowed for a few hours, leaving about 3 to 4 inches of white powder on the ground. That somewhat discouraged us from going out to see some sites, so it was a lazy day to say the least. We eventually did decide to go see the National Archives, and along the way we found a truly enjoyable squirrel burrowing in the snow. He made threats against Ricky, but eventually they became friends. The following video is the evidence of the encounter:

It was awe-inspiring to see the super-old documents at the National Archives. The Magna Carta was there. The Magna Carta. I wasn't aware of that. That thing was written way before the Constitution or The Declaration of Independence, both of which were there. The rotunda, as the call it, where they keep the documents looked remarkably familiar to me. I then realized that I recognized the location from the movie National Treasure. I wanted to say, "I'm going to steal The Declaration of Independence," but thought better after catching the suspecting guards eye.

Last night there was a little bbq/party at Apt. 610. Amazing brawts.

Did I mention church was canceled today because of the snow? Living in Utah my entire life has never gifted me with a snow day, and my first month in DC does after a week snowstorm. Pitiful. Weak members in DC...(just kidding. Kinda...)

Here's a few pictures from the week. I'll get Obama up later. I promise that the last photo was not planned. It was not intentional in any way. We came home from work, talking about the day while changing, and when I emerged from the closet and he from the room, Ricky looked at me and said, "You did that on purpose, didn't you?" And I again promise, I had no idea. Picture perfect moment.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Washington, DC: Post 2

Today is Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, meaning that I have the day off (federal holiday). The last 10 plus days have been superb, and I feel like I'm learning so much about so many different things: politics, myself, the Spirit, and others. I knew this was going to be a great experience, but just how great I didn't know.

I do many things as an intern in a congressional office. Natalia (the other intern) and I sit at two desks in the front. We answer phone calls, respond to mail, schedule tours, and a number of other things. Eventually we will be giving tours of the Capitol Building to Congressman Chaffetz's constituents, but we haven't been trained on that yet.

Of all these tasks, I must admit that answering phones is my least favorite. I normally enjoy talking to people, but every call contains an unknown conversation for which I always feel uneasy. People call about every issue, ranging from healthcare to gay rights. Occasionally a we'll receive a pleasant caller who simply wants to share their appreciation and leave a good message. The reason these phone calls are so nerve-racking at times is because I feel unprepared. I'm trying so hard to keep up with issues and bills, and just when I think I have a hold on something someone else will call in about something I've never heard of. That opens up a whole new session of worry and study. It's actually quite fun, in the end, but pure panic fills my being when someone throws an unfamiliar issue my way. Working in the office has been surprisingly swell overall. Working with a former Viewmont Viking, Alisia Abegg Essig, helps a lot. I feel a little more at ease and she treats me very well. Many times I have felt like an infant learning how to walk, but Alisia makes me feel very welcome and capable. She's given me tasks that keep me occupied and that give me a sense of accomplishment.

So, famous people I've met? Well, obviously I have met Congressman Jason Chaffetz. He invited Natalia and I into his office and spoke with us for about 15 minutes just about life. He expressed his appreciation for us coming to work for him and invited us to have an enjoyable time in DC.

Jason, being a very politically savvy man, had an interview earlier this week with Dan Rather. WHAT? Dan Rather. You read right. It was awesome! Mr. Rather walked in and shook my hand. By the time he left he had shaken my hand three times. That is my nose in the picture of him signing the guest book. I was that close.

I have many more pictures but no way to upload them onto a computer, so until I figure something out, you can enjoy the videos I've put on YouTube. If you can't find them from this site, type in bradybarrett7 in YouTube and you'll get my videos. I hope you find them entertaining. They show a variety of things, including my first day here and getting mixed up on the Metro.

This week I have seen the White House, the Lincoln Memorial, the Washington Memorial, the WWII Memorial, the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History, the Smithsonian Castle, and the Smithsonian Hirshhorn Museum of Art. Yesterday (Sunday) after church my roommate Ricky and I went to the Washington, DC Temple Visitors Center for a fireside. A few recent converts gave testimony, and the main speaker was Brother Larry EchoHawk, the Assistant Secretary for Indian Affairs. It was a great meeting, plus we were sitting right outside the temple. It was raining (more like misting) and the way the mists shrouded the brilliant temple was a beautiful symbol to me of what this life is all about. It has been a blast here, and I am really enjoying myself. I've been blessed with good roommates and good people all around me.

Although Washington, DC is fun and all that, I still have to say that the Jazz gave me the best moment of the week...

Friday, January 8, 2010

Washinton D.C.: Post 1

Eating at Texas Roadhouse was the best thing a man can do right before boarding an all-night flight. With food in his stomach, a man can sleep. A man can think. A man can dream...which is exactly what I would have done if I didn't have two stops with long layovers on my way to Washington. Flying to Denver was not so horrible because it was so short. The worst came with the flight to Houston, in the which I got no sleep and no respect. Baldy, as we will gently call him, was moving around so much in his chair that I couldn't help but think he was about to wet himself. The woman next to me stole my armrest, so my left armpit was sweating more than my right, which I absolutely detest. All that in addition to the impossible task of sleeping while sitting straight up with no leg room.
The flight from Atlanta to the Reagan International Airport was superb. I remember trying to finish a Sudoku while taxing around the runway, then landing. Nothing to fill the void. I slept so well.

Day one was simple. I arrived at my apartment, unpacked my bags, and "hit the town," which was actually just testing the metro and grabbing a Subway (sandwich, not public transportation.) I spent the night alone in the apartment which was actually somewhat fun.

The next morning was my first day on the job at Congressman Jason Chaffetz office. I got very excited very quickly. How many people get an intimate tour of the Capitol Building on Day One of employment? I did. I helped escort a couple around the Capitol which is fascinating and definitely a good way to start.

Yesterday and today were filled with things I mostly expected to be doing: phone calls, desk work, computer files, mail, etc. Surprisingly, doing such things was quite fun. Phone calls, for example, keep me on my toes, and it is rather uplifting to feel like you made someone's day just by being upbeat with them. Even just today brought many such moments after I excitedly asked people how their day was going. The tone from the initial "Congressman So-and-So's office" to "Great! How is yours?" is as different as Dennis Rodman and Gandhi. Yes, that different.

No need to tell me that the excitement and shine will wear off after a few days. No need to tell me not to get my hopes up. My hopes are up. And they'll probably stay up. I have no intentions of getting bored or frustrated, because 4 months really isn't that much time in the end. I've been whole just over two days and I already feel like I'm running out of time.

Friday, January 1, 2010

The Voyage of 2010

2010.  Already.  Times appears to be picking up speed, like a semi coming down a mountain pass with no brakes.  The Jazz were playing the Bulls in the Finals yesterday.  Y2K had was driving everyone to madness last month, and I celebrated the year 2000 last week.  I got home from my mission yesterday.  Now all the sudden it's 2010 and I wonder what I've accomplished in life.

I've lived through some of the 80's, all of the 90's, all of the 00's, and now I begin the 10's.  How is that possible?  1986 orignally seemed to be so recent.  I'm having a mid-life crisis at the ripe old age of 23.  I wish I had a stellar car to go with it.

2009 was a great year, starting with the Sugar Bowl and ending with a quick trip to San Fransico and spending time with family.  2010 begins with an internship in Washington, DC, and then heads into the great unknown.

I've never been one to make New Year's resolutions, but I think the new decade requires me to do so.  Thanks, 2000' gave me some facial hair and a few inches. got big shoes to fill.