Conservation, Managing Resources... THAT IS THE KEY TO BASEBALL!

Conservation, Managing Resources... THAT IS THE KEY TO BASEBALL!

Good evening readers, it’s another day in the wild world of Washington DC for this exhausted intern. Alas, my semester is roughly half way over and I find myself already cushioning myself for the painful blow that leaving this city will surely bring. Over the course of the last six weeks I’ve had a boat-load of amazing experiences. If I’ve said it once, I’ve said it a thousand times: life out here moves way to fast to keep up with. Maybe that’s because when I’m not at work, I’m asleep. Maybe it’s because I feel pressured to see as much as I can as quickly as I can, thereby stretching my time to its very breaking point. But mostly it comes down to the fact that we only have roughly fifteen weeks to embrace everything a city of over five million Americans have every day of their lives to take in at a piece-meal pace. Either way, I feel vastly privileged to be here this semester. It’s taught me a lot about who I am, who I want to be, and what I need to do to get there. But, don’t fear faithful readers, I’m not going to get all sentimental on you quite yet. Instead, seeing as I’m finally starting to get the initial inklings of “blogger’s-block,” I’ve decided to take an alternate course to writing this week’s post. I will not spend this post recapping where I’ve gone, what I’ve done, who I’ve met, and what I’ve ate (we’ll continue that next week when I have a little more to offer up). Instead, this week, I’ve decided to offer up some inklings of knowledge, designed to aide those of you thinking of coming out here in the near future. Hopefully, with a little bit of guidance from yours-truly, you all can at least have a marginally smoother transition from wherever home happens to be.

Cash Rules Everything Around Me

Let’s begin with the basics: money. No matter what, bring double whatever your original budget is for your semester out in DC. This isn’t to say I’ve run out of money out here, in fact it’s quite the opposite. But the only reason I’m staying on budget so far is because I doubled my original estimate of how much I would spend just before I left for DC. Rest assured prospective Washington Center students, life out here is quite expensive. In what ways you ask? Let me explain… In my initial calculations, I anticipated a fairly solid estimate of $25 dollars a week on Metro expenses. Hah! The reality? I spend anywhere around $40 to $50 dollars a week just to ride the Metro to and from work, along with the other stops I make on the weekend in my quest to embrace the city while I have the chance. Let’s pony up another example to show how this can ultimately stack up. Food costs. Being an avid fan of finding the best food for the best price, I came to DC with the best intentions to seek out the finest establishments for the lowest fare. Now, coming from Iowa City, this was an easy task. Food out there is relatively cheap. You can, most of the time, find places to eat for around $5, spending at maximum $15 for a full restaurant meal with a waiter and everything. DC is a totally different beast. If you go in expecting to get away with lunch for around $5, you might as well expect to get away with murder. It just won’t happen. In my experience, even $10 pushes the limit of getting a satisfying, all-encompassing lunch (and that’s coming from eating at mostly quick-serve establishments like Subway, Potbelly’s, Chipotle, McDonalds, etc.). If you really want to “go out” for lunch, bring at least $15 with you, or find yourself washing dishes to pay off the last chunk of your tab. The same principle can be applied to bars and drinks. Unless you go to happy hour, which in my case, is a very difficult thing to do when you’re as tired as me at the end of the day, you will pay, at minimum, $5 per beer, and anywhere from $6-10 for a mixed drink (depending on what caliber of liquor caters to your fancy). Also, cabs are a scam, albeit a necessary scam. Sometimes you simply cannot get from point A to point B without one, and when that time comes, get ready to empty the safe. I’ve never seen so many taxi surcharges applied to fare in my entire life (and I come from Chicago for Christ’s sake!).

 Money

 (It sure seems like this sometimes)

Beware the Metro Station (including the one who made that annoying “Shake It” song)

Next up: Metro issues and the best ways to resolve them. For starters, never try to take the Metro from 5:00 to 6:00 unless you absolutely have to. You’ve seen the pictures of the Tokyo Subway correct? Well, this comes damn close! Over the last week, I’ve waited, on average 30 minutes at Metro center each day coming home, scrambling to catch each and every train, only to be either shoved out of the way by someone who simply can’t wait, or to be smashed in so tight as to be forced to smell the day-long B.O. of the particularly sweaty businessman currently cramming his armpit into my face in an effort to grasp the ever-loosening handle bars that run the length of the Metro cars. Continuing with Metro advice and problems: if someone looks like they’re in a massive hurry, looks pissed, or is just has the appearance of an a**hole, stay as far away from them as you can while by the entrance gates, on escalators, on the platform, or on the train. It doesn’t matter how polite you might think you are, you will never meet these people’s standards. For example, just today, on my way home, I patiently waited at the Metro stop for a train, relatively close to the front of the group of passengers. Now common courtesy usually dictates you wait for everyone to exit the train, and then make your way on in an orderly fashion, but some people just don’t care. Cue my problem. As I wait patiently for the exiting passengers to clear, me, and about five other passengers, get barged forward, colliding headfirst with the exiting group and sparking immediate animosity between both, equally pestered groups. After avoiding confrontation, I look behind me to see the culprit of this blatantly rude gesture. Low and behold, there behind me, still shoving mind you, is a sixty-something, 250 lb. old woman. Now before you feel sorry for her, this woman was throwing elbows at everyone around here, clawing for dear life to squeeze her impatient rump onto that exact train. I kinda’ shrugged it off and kept trying to get on, but she would not let it happen. Not without a fight. Smashing the rows of people that somehow made their way in front of her; she ended up pressing me, behind a pile of five or six bodies, into one of the handrails on the Metro and refused to stop pushing! Clamoring to drop into any semi-open vacuum on the car, I tried sidestepping my way out of a crushed sternum, only to get elbowed in the face by the same old lady. The nerve of some people! So, two options present themselves when dealing with the Metro violence: avoid the Metro like the plague, or start dropping some Stone-Cold-Stunners on everyone who gets even remotely in your line of fire.

 Red Line

(Like this...but wayyyyy more packed with bodies)

 

 

Early to Bed, Early to Rise… Well, You Know the RestHorsin' Around

 

Part three: go to bed early. I don’t wanna’ hear “but DAAAAAAANNN, I can’t sleep earlier/I don’t need sleep/but I want to party!” Suck it up, Sally. The moments you have engulfed in the sweet trappings of sleep will be some of the only, purest, moments of happiness you will have all semester. In wake of this, arm yourself with melatonin, your softest sheets, and the darkest corner you have, because mark my words: you will pay for you refusal to go to bed at a reasonable time. I’ve, unfortunately learned this the hard way, as many of you will probably remember me describing from previous postings. I cannot stress enough how valuable sleep is out at the Washington Center. They keep you far too busy to try to cling to inklings of “night-owl-ism.” I guess if you absolutely must, you can spur yourself into the realm of the living will a well-timed 5-hour-energy or an extra-large Monster or Red Bull, but that’s only delaying the inevitable crash that will soon catch up to you like the raging wildfire. With this in mind, any time you find you are not using for anything directly important to your overall absorbance of the DC area, use to take short, and frequent, naps. If you really want to be able to last well into the night without feeling like a zombie the next morning, you’ll need to accumulate your lost hours of sleep somewhere else, and a series of quick sequential naps can easily nap you a couple hours of quick, beautiful, sleep.  

Trouble? Help is Just a Click Away

Part four: utilize the wealth of information provided to you by the WMATA website. If there’s one thing that has bothered me the most this semester (and yes, this really is just an extension of Metro issues and advice, but it’s bad enough it deserves its own category) it’s travel setbacks. Whether it is missed trains or even just taking the wrong track, always be sure you know where and when you’re going somewhere to avoid unnecessary frustration with the not-perfect transit system out here. That’s not to say it’s terrible; in fact, the Metro out here is far better than the Chicago “L” trains, it just means be ready. On WMATA.com there are helpful tools that range from easy-access maps of the Metro lines, train schedules, all the way to a trip planner that allows you to plug in the addresses for your departure and destination point in order to receive comprehensive directions on how to get there via Metro public transportation (including rail and bus). This might be the #1 “thing” I’ve used all semester. It even inspired me to purchase a $1.00 ITouch application so I could have all of these handy features right at the tips of my fingers, no matter where I go. But this piece of advice does not come without some form of warning. Keep in mind weekend warriors, the Red Line on the Metro always runs track maintenance on the weekends, severely limiting the overall Metro schedule. In wake of this, don’t just run to a Metro station of the weekends expecting to magically catch a train just as you get to the platform. More often than not, you’ll end up stuck, waiting for the next train to come from 20 min. away, drowning what is, many times a good mood, with bad Metro vibes. However, keep in mind that the tools I’ve mentioned are not always spot on when it comes to timing. This means don’t try to run to a Metro train that’s supposed to come in 3 minutes, because it probably already came. When in doubt, and especially on weekends, always show up roughly five minutes early for whatever train you’re trying to catch. This way you can minimize the mass amounts of Metro aggravation that I’ve had to go through on the weekends so far.

Trip Planner

 Overall, if you keep these little tips in mind throughout your stay, you’re bound to have a relatively smooth time, and that leads me to my last piece of advice… have as much fun as you can while you are in DC. I know this sounds hokey and mostly self-explanatory, but it really is essential. Everything up until this point, that I’ve told you, has simply been an effort to ease some of your incoming jitters/worries/issues that you might run across. With some of these base problems out of the way, it really does leave you open to have an astounding time in this amazing city. Like I said at the top, you only have 15 or so weeks to embrace your time here; you might as well make the most of it while you can. Therefore, with these final words I bid you all adieu! Take it easy, and we’ll see you next week!             

Bonus: On this week’s bonus music round, I bring to you something a little upbeat in an effort to not only wake myself up a little bit, but mostly in an effort to expose you all to an artist whom I had mentioned in an earlier post, but never gave much of a proper introduction. That is why today I bring you “Rock N' Roll (Will Take You to the Mountain)” by new-DJ- phenom, Skrillex (AKA: Sonny Moore). Skrillex tends to blend dub, electro, and house elements into a convoluted, complex smorgasbord that will surely flip your conception of electronic music on its head. There’s a time in this song when I find myself almost overwhelmed with all the layers of noise that he’s bringing into the equation; cramming assorted laser effects, bass drops, synthed vox, and a cacophony of other sound effects into one steaming pile of win. Enjoy, friends!

Image Credits:

Money Roll: http://i918.photobucket.com/albums/ad26/markhardinphotos/Toilet-Paper-Money-Roll-psd28753.png

Red Line: http://b5media_b4.s3.amazonaws.com/28/files/2006/10/metro-gallery-place-boardingtrain-from-metro-site.jpg

Sleeping Man: http://imgsrv.rock102.com/image/waqy/UserFiles/Image/Caption%20This/horse%20sleeping%20with%20dude.jpg

Metro Trip Planner: http://dcist.com/attachments/dcist_sommer/2010_0607_tripplanner.jpg

(We're all too tired from "horsing around," harhar)

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