We, The Pros of Con

     What a strange and wonderful road it has been so far folks. It seems like it was just yesterday that I was unpacking my suitcase, settling into my semester in DC. But alas, I have less than six weeks left before my adventure will come to a conclusion. It’s sad. It’s exciting. It’s confusing? What will become of me after my graduation from Iowa? Will I find a job? Where will I live? All and more, buzzing through my head, constantly reminding me of the inevitable leap in responsibility that will soon become my very existence. However, despite this whirlwind of confusion I find myself at an eerily calm point in the semester. This is probably the time where I feel the most confident about my future. Not only do I feel properly immersed into the lifestyle of a “nine-to-five” worker, but I’m also comforted by the couple weeks that separate me from total, chaotic freedom. It’s a good place to be. If only this very week could somehow be frozen in time; preserving the very ambivalent feelings of optimism towards what the future holds and the nostalgia for all the fun and good times in my undergraduate years that has come before this. However, seeing as my time in DC is short, I can only imagine that your time spent plodding through my weekly, wandering thoughts is even shorter. Therefore, with you dwindling attention spans circling the drain as I existentially examine my current situation, I turn to this week’s events… and the soundtrack that best defines the madness (or mediocrity).

Jefferson Airplane's "White Rabbit" vs. Sucker Punch
 
      For my first foray, I bring to you, for your enjoyment, the recounting of this past Friday night: a night filled with equal parts pure boredom, wanton feasting, and cinematic insanity. While this may be an embellishment of the actual, physical events that took place, the words used above adequately place the night’s activities within the realm of the song for which I’ve defined the night by: Jefferson Airplane’s “White Rabbit” (*cue the groans). I know many of you may think that “White Rabbit” is about as overplayed as “Don’t Stop Believin,’” but it served as the soundtrack to my favorite part in the movie I saw Friday night, Sucker Punch, and therefore is invariably etched into the deep pits of my memory. Perhaps this is unfair; perhaps I’m too influenced by outside forces (i.e. movie soundtracks) to make my own, educated opinion on what could fit in “White Rabbit’s” place. Or, maybe, the song really does fit into the scenario in which it was used (my preferred course of thought). But, before we get into Sucker Punch, let’s first examine the lead-up to our IMAX experience (yes… I said IMAX).

IMAX

      Choosing to forego a weekend of barhopping in favor of trying something “different,” the roommates and I settled on going to see Sucker Punch in IMAX Friday evening.  But, in order to make an evening out of the event, we decided to head down to the Silver Spring Regal Majestic Theatres a tad early in order to go get some well-deserved eats in honor of a hard week well-fought for. Little did we understand how long it would take us to get to Silver Spring, nor how much spare time our early departure would leave us until the movie (roughly 3 hours…ugh). So, just as “White Rabbit” tumbles lackadaisically through its intro, so we too bumbled around Silver Spring, walking to and fro simply to waste time before dinner. The instantly-recognizable bass line trotting alongside next to us as we explored the general neighborhood, searching for something even remotely interesting to keep our drifting attentions at bay for a minimum for ten minutes at a time. But, as time passed by, our anticipations began to rise, not only for the inevitable feast we would partake in, but also for the movie that we had built up hype for amongst ourselves over the week. Cue in the rising tempo and intensity of “White Rabbit.” We were roughly around “Call Alice, when she was just small,” when we sat down at the Austin Grill and awaited an epic feast of ribs (me), chicken with Chorizo gravy (Ryan), and a combination of wings and quesadillas (D). I won’t quite inundate you with the details of the meal (we can save that for the next time I decide to do food reviews), but the meal was excellent, peaking out at the “and you’ve just had some kind of mushroom, and your mind is moving slow” part. A short time later, we were sitting in the IMAX theatre, watching movie trailers for what amounted to “Rock-‘Em-Sock-‘Em-Robots: The Movie (Featuring Hugh Jackman)” and some Morgan-Freeman-Narrated, animal orphan, cute 3D cuddle-fest when we reached the “and the White Knight is talking backwards, and the Red Queen’s ‘off with her head’” level of excitement. But the culmination came with the epic zombie-filled, World War I-era, robot mech-blasting, dragon-spewing, Samurai-battling, machinegun-wielding, leather-clad, explosion-filled mind-warp that was Sucker Punch. “KEEEP YOUR HEEAAAAD, KEEEEP YOURRR HEEAAAADDDD, KEEEEEEEEPPP YOOOOUUURRRR HEEEAAADDDD!”

Downtown

      Yes, Sucker Punch was epic. Yes, the story was garbage. But I didn’t really care. It was enough of a CGI visual-orgy of fantasy violence to make any inklings of “nerd-dom” giggle with delight… and that’s all that you really need to know about it. Period.

Plaza

 

    

Rage Against the Machine's "Calm Like A Bomb" vs. Office Stress

     Round two: the weekly workplace. Now I know that many of you will be expecting something like “OMG, lyke, The Office theme song!” or some other lame workplace-oriented tune. This is simply not the case. While at work there are a variety of songs that go through my head (most of which I can’t exactly play out loud due to common-sense dictating their “inappropriate” nature for a working environment). Such is the case of the song that has plagued my conscious for the last week at the office: Rage Against the Machine’s “Calm Like a Bomb.” Why, you might be asking, would I have the euphonic ranting of Zack De La Rocha slamming through my head? Well, because sometimes there’s peace in the chaos. That, and lets just face it, nothing pumps you up to get s*@& done more than some good-ol’-fashioned riot music. That spreadsheet looking a little too long, sucking your eyelids downwards with the never ending list of names? Pop this little number into your speakers and you’ll tackle that spreadsheet like a super pissed-off rhino. Last minute deadlines giving you a headache? Rage Against the Machine will make you head-bang your stress out like a hate-filled maraca.

Desk

      Sometimes you simply got to “feel the funk blast,” and let it drive you into that dark little corner of your mind where nothing can stand between you and whatever lies in front of you. Now, that’s not to say that you should listen to Rage, get super jacked up, and go stampeding around your office looking for a fight. But, it does mean that you can channel said “flash-anger” into a more productive outlet. After all, there’s no feeling like tackling something especially tough/stressful/boring/whatever and dominating it like alpha male you are! PROTEIIIINNN!!! HGGGGGGHHHHHHHH!!!!!! MUSCLLLEEEE MIILLLLK!!!!!! But seriously, all “My New Haircut” references aside (wait… you’ve seriously never heard of “My New Haircut?” Go to YouTube right now and search it, you owe it to yourself), life can be stressful sometimes… especially at work. Do yourself a favor and inject a couple doses of some down-home hate-filled music to help expel some of that pent up madness before you pull a Milton and burn down the building. If music is the universal language, then Rage is the nasty, foul-sounding curse words: spiteful, emotion-filled, and just too damn satisfying to use.

Office Stress

     “What ch’ya say? What ch’ya say? What ch’ya say? What?” (*Bownownanoowwww Baoownowbeoooww*… yes I actually voiced out the guitar line, I just couldn’t help myself). But in all seriousness, I’ve had my fair share of stressful moments at work and it a tribute to the intensity of the music that I listen to on a daily basis (like Rage) that keeps me within the realm of sanity day-in and day-out. This is not to say that the Trust is an especially stressful environment, it’s no more stressful than any other job I’ve had, but it’s not without its challenges. Office work is a tough field. It takes the right amount of realism, a bit of optimism, and a whole lot of perseverance to succeed (something our Chairman, Mr. Chip Akridge taught me last week). Looking back on my office experiences so far, and looking ahead at those to come, I can’t help but notice how right he was. Who knows, maybe Mr. Akridge is also a big Rage fan. In all honesty, something tells me that this couldn’t possibly be further from the truth, but hey… I can dream can’t I?
 
     

Blackfield's "Once" vs. Public Policy Dialogue on Capitol Hill

Blackfield "Once" (SoundCloud link... Sorry, there wasn't a good YouTube video of it that wasn't live)

     Round three: my public policy dialogue on Capitol Hill. I come to you with my third encounter hot off the heels of a busy day. Today, as a part of my Washington Center programming, I had the distinct pleasure of going to meet with the Legislative Assistant (Kris Denzel) to Congressman Robert Dold of Illinois’ 10th district. Overall, I’d say the experience was a lot better than I thought it would be. Rather than sitting in some elegant conference room, verbally launching question after question at the assistant in hopes of tripping up his game, me and the other Washington Center student (also Chris) went with Legislative Assistant Kris (confused yet?) downstairs, through an underground tunnel, and into the basement food court of the Longworth House Office Building. There we convened at a small table in the back of the food court and sat down to discussion between concerned peers. All of us, with the exception of The Washington Center’s liaison, Danielle, were from the area which Congressman Dold represents, and therefore had strong interests in the betterment of our community. Taking concerns my mother had as a teacher in Illinois, I proposed a series a questions about the nature of Illinois’ educational system and the disparity inherent. Thankfully, Kris seemed to be quite knowledgeable on the subject, and proceeded to ease the fears that I had, courtesy of my mother, about the future of education in Illinois.

Dold's Office 

      It was an overall uplifting experience, which is probably why this section of my blog has little sarcasm or witticisms. I genuinely left with an optimistic feeling after my meeting with Kris. Despite Congressman Dold’s freshman status in the current Congress, he seems to have some solid stances regarding many of Illinois’ antiquated educational systems. Kris outlined some of the expected reform to take place in the future, but all was from a general standpoint. This I could totally understand. Congressman Dold’s office, I’d bet, has been more concerned with getting up-to-date with all of the policy on the table at the moment rather than hammering out his entire future endeavors. It is this exact optimism expressed by the staff of Congressmen Dold’s office that leaves me picking the song “Once” by Blackfield as the quintessential song to define my experience. 

Cannon Basement

      While I may have only discovered this song about 30 minutes ago, and haven’t exactly had enough time to listen to the full album (Blackfield II), I can tell so far that the song perfectly summarizes the feeling I felt leaving the Cannon building… optimism. A slow, rhythmic drum beat pulses in the background as silky smooth vocals sail through your head, almost caressing you to sleep. It feels as though you’re sailing across a smooth sea, only to ramp up in intensity like a strong wind carrying you off through the wild blue yonder. It’s a good feeling. It’s relaxing, comforting, and enlivening all at the same time… kinda’ like my experience with Kris. As notes crash over the bow of my eardrums, I can’t help but be reminded that despite a definitive stance on many issues yet, Congressman Dold has a lot in store for the state of Illinois; a lot of good. If he holds true to everything Kris told us, then I have no doubt that Congressman Dold will be able to fill the big shoes left by Mark Kirk (now a Senator). As vocals harmonize, so does the many plans his office has for Illinois. He’s on the right track, at least for now. Let’s hope it stays that way. But hope, for now, can simply sail along with the breezy notes of Steven Wilson and Aviv Geffen, carrying my mind to higher, more peaceful place. Somewhere where the future doesn’t seem so bleak, and in fact holds promise. It feels good to feel so relaxed and at peace. I don’t know why I haven’t found this song sooner…

Cannon

      And so, as one post winds down, so do I. Time for this tired intern to recline back, munch down and generally do whatever is needed to take the stress level down a couple notches. For the remainder of the night, I fully plan on splitting my time between stumbling across the intertubes, browsing the vast collection of Netflix Instant Queue movies, and playing some Xbox. Might as well live in the moment, there’s not much left to be had.

 

Credits: Silver Spring Theatre: http://www.showtimecity.com/.a/6a00e553cd814888330120a75889ed970b-500wi

Downtown Silver Spring: http://www.labelscar.com/wp-content/uploads/2006/10/Downtown-Silver-Spring-02.jpg

Silver Spring Fountain: http://www.silverspringdowntown.com/_files/images/20060313-100349-silverplaza.jpg

Stressful Office: http://www.stressuless.com/images/stress_office.jpg

Cannon Building: http://blogs.loc.gov/loc/files/2007/06/cannon-building.jpg

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