After graduating from Vanderbilt, I spent my first summer in Washington, D.C. I lived in Pentagon City in housing for an interns program called the Washington Internship Institute, although I was not technically in the program (they often rent out extra spots to independent summer interns). The program is very diverse, so ended up with friends from Florida, South Carolina, Nebraska, California, Massachusetts, and elsewhere. Here I am with my suite mates after we decided to dress up one night:
For the first half of the summer, I interned for Senator Mark Warner (D-VA) and for the second half I interned with Representative Jim Cooper (D-TN). Unfortunately, I missed the day when the interns got to meet and get a photograph with Senator Warner, but I did get to stand next to Representative Cooper in our group shot. As you can see, Cooper’s office takes a lot of interns!
I won’t say much about those internships here, other than that both Congressmen are hardworking, pragmatic centrists who I admire deeply. Their staffs also treated me and the other interns with a great deal of respect. My favorite part of that experience was leading Capitol tours for Representative Cooper’s constituents from Tennessee and the Dome tour Cooper was generous enough to sign us up to attend (Dome tours are not permitted without the permission of a Congressman).
We got to look down on the Dome surface – it gave us all a sense of vertigo.
We also got to look up, real close, at The Apotheosis of Washington.
The view from the top of the Dome is incredible. It really conveys the grid-like pattern of D.C.
I spent much of the rest of the summer hanging out with friends in my apartment building and cousins I know in the area. Having lived in D.C. once before, I also knew my way around better than many of my friends, who hailed from all across the country. The metro system makes D.C. incredibly navigable, though I also feel like I spent a third of the summer waiting for trains. Here a few of us are on one of our last nights:
One fantastic show we attended was by the Washington Sound Museum, a cross-cultural progressive hip hop group. The lead singer, Christlyz Bacon, was hilarious. For one of the final songs, he gathered random words from the audience and worked them into a song that he made up on the spot. I gave him “rhinoceros”, which he rhymed very skillfully with “preposterous”.
You can see him performing the improv routine here (different show, same venue):
Another great show that I saw was a concert by Low, a slowcore group from Minnesota. The husband and wife lead duo are both Mormon (though they are not, strictly, a religious group) and the concert took place at the Sixth and I Historical Synagogue, which, oddly, also services as a music venue. The creaky venue actually fit their sound perfectly – everything echoed and brought out the power of their slow, brooding music. A lot of their softer tracks came across with much more punch as a result. “Witches”, “Clarence White”, and “Words” were all highlights. The video show they had accompanying their performance was awesome, and it interacted interesting with the Menorahs enveloped in light and graphics.
Another fun afternoon was spent watching the annual D.C. Pride Parade. A few of my cousins (who are members of a liberal church) marched in it. One of them actually saw me cheering, ran over to me, and high-fived me!
On the same topic, I had the incredible, historical experience of being on the steps of the Supreme Court when the judges struck down DOMA and Proposition 8! It was incredibly exciting being there. I got really sweaty cheering with the pro-equality protestors. I realized later that I probably looked like a conservative, given that I was wearing a white shirt (having come to my internship in a suit and leaving the jacket in the office).
I could go on all day about other cool things from this summer – exploring Georgetown, seeing a free show at the Kennedy Center, taking nighttime boat ride past the monuments, going to pretty much every museum (plus the National Zoo and the Botanic Garden). It was also a great transition from being a student to being a graduate. Midway through the summer and after three phone interviews, I got a job! Starting in August, I’ve been working at a law firm as a caseworker in downtown Atlanta. Moving to a new city was daunting, but more on that later!