Friday, August 14, 2009

Work, Play, and Other



This week's DC neophyte tip: If you are on a crowded metro platform, and a crowded train approaches with 7 completely full cars with 1 that still has seats, you can be 100% sure that the A/C is broken in that car and you would be better served by cramming yourself into a nice, cool car rather than be seated comfortably in 120 degree moving sauna.

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It's hard to believe that I have only been working for two weeks. It really does seem like much longer, though that is probably due to the 3-day mini-vacation that I took to travel back Washington State to witness and participate in my sister's wedding. Which, I should note, was beautiful and amazing. Should I ever get the desire to have my own backyard wedding, I am definitely hiring her.

On both sides of that quick trip across the country, I have been working and establishing my routine. This morning was the 2nd of what will be many mornings where I wake up in my Woodley Park apartment, eat oatmeal while listening to NPR, walk 3 blocks to the metro, ride through 2 stops to Farragut North, walk 4 blocks (going along the side of the White House) before stopping for coffee at the only place in DC that roasts their own, and then finally walking another 2 blocks to the Main Interior Building (MIB, the coolest building acronym ever). Boring, I know.

But DC is a really exciting, interesting, and quite a beautiful place (in the white pillared architecture sort of way, not the Mt. Rainier/Puget Sound/evergreen sort of way), though I have been absorbed in the 9 to 5. Actually, I have been working an 8 to 5:3o compressed work schedule to make up for all of my travel, making for long, 9.5 hour days. The fact that Friday of my second week is already here is pretty amazing, a good sign that my days have been engaging and full. Today I will submit a one page memo on the economic value of recreational uses of public lands that may eventually land on the desk of one of the Assistant Secretaries. I feel pretty cool right now. Unlike yesterday when I realized that I had already lost my ID badge. Then I just felt stupid.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

A Couple of Days In

I have a desk with nothing on it. I have an email address but no computer or password with which to access it, plus a phone number with no clue as to how to set up my voicemail. And I have an ID badge that has "temporary" plastered all over it. I just barely have my foot in the door, with plenty of reminders from the Federal Bureaucracy that it takes more than a job title to become a member of the club.

Despite all of these hurdles, my first two days as a full time employee at the Department of the Interior have been great, amazing even. I can already tell that this position is going to challenge me in all sorts of good ways. I would have never guessed that on my first day I would be asked to look over a memo to the science adviser to the Secretary about how to integrate social science into the DOI's Climate Change policy. Or that I would be hosting a conference call between the Army Corps of Engineers, EPA, and DOI on coastal restoration in Louisiana and Mississippi as part of post-Katrina natural areas preservation. I will not go into detail, that would just be boring for most, but suffice it to say that I was tempted to bring some of my reading material home with me, and I had to remind myself that I was getting paid for this!

Perhaps I will get bored of all this, but so far I can't imagine it. Everyday is a chance to practice what I have been preparing for for so long, and I can't be thankful enough that I have this opportunity in front of me.