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Adopting in Ashburn

What began in France moved to Washington, DC and then the suburbs. Let the adventures in Ashburn continue.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Deliverables

Tonight we turned in five deliverables which were actually comprised of nine different and smaller components for our pro-bono communications client. In addition, we wrote five memos describing the deliverables for our professor.

I thought I would feel relieved we were finished. Instead, I feel a little like I was rocked too hard in a boat. Maybe it was because we had 48 hours to complete all of that work, and so it obviously was not my best product ever. Maybe it was because I didn't even have time to proofread them.

Or maybe it was because my professor used me (anonymously) as an example of how he was disappointed in our class. I, heaven-forbid, did not know what an editorial plan looked like for a newsletter, nor could I find any examples. So, I had emailed him and asked for an idea of what I needed to include. He thought I should have just taken the initiative to do whatever I thought might be best, instead of asking for help.

I am rarely the "needy" kid who needs help. I pay attention in class. But I had never even heard of an editorial plan before, better yet done one. It just makes me feel behind. Less professional.

What if my boss is like this? Expects perfection but is unwilling to give me instruction? What if my co-workers don't know either? It makes me really nervous to go out into the real world feeling like such a dunce.

People here at school say we'll be so prepared. If nothing else, we'll be able to wing it until we figure it out. But other people, they keep telling me stories about "those idiots with degrees." "Those book smart people." Well, I am one of those people, but that doesn't make me any worse at my job. Or will it?

I don't really have time to think about that now, because I have to go and put together a binder that will break down the chapters of the BOOK I (the incapable one) am writing.

Well, at least the deliverables are done. I have to make a binder and prepare a 15 minute presentation on this stuff, but then I never have to look at it again if I don't want to.

Moving on.

Love always, ~Heather

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Mistakes (continued)

After writing a blogpost on mistakes, I randomly came across this article. As a huge space nerd and a grad student looking for every last interesting story I can incorporate into my thesis as possible, I found this take compelling.

It is about 1.) why the images of Neil Armstrong landing on the moon are so hazy, 2.) how they figured out the problem, and 3.) how NASA lost the proof and the original scientists (some retired for over 20 years) are on the trail to find the truth.

Read it, I think you'll find it very cool. (Or not, but if not, there are video clips and pictures on the side you can click on. If pictures of a complete vacuum with people functioning in it don't thrill you then you're probably out of luck.)

Wired 15.01: One Giant Screwup for Mankind

Love always, ~Heather

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Mistakes

Prompted by tonight's episode of House ...

Everybody makes mistakes. If ever you think someone is perfect, just look at the eraser on their pencil - proof of mistake-making if ever there was any.

Sometimes mistakes actually lead you on the right path. Other times they hurt. I still think you grow from these things.

But tiny little mistakes, one millimeter mistakes, misplaced letter mistakes .... sometimes they can be just as fierce as giant whopper mistakes.

I don't really have a moral to this story except to say that if ever a mistake I've made has negatively impacted you, I'm sorry.

I long ago came to grips with the fact that I will never be perfect - but I journey in the hopes of perfection everyday. I recognize my fallibility, and seek to overcome it.

And one day I hope to see perfection in all its glory. Love always, ~Heather

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Monday, April 23, 2007

Five days is a long time

Since the Internet went out:

I hung out with G on a brief visit to Tenleytown. It was so nice to catch up with my world-traveling pal. Safe and happy travels G!

Our crab Scuttle now has a crab crawl made of corks from wine bottles. It is this hysterical looking ramp so she can get up out of the water every once in a while. So far she is still climbing up the aquarium plants instead. There is hope yet.

I went shopping for dress clothes. I was sparked by What Not to Wear. I usually don't take my fashion advice from TV shows, but this was different. It showed a woman who by the show's standards dressed really well, except she was a CEO. It talked about dressing the part you want, and not down-playing your work by dressing beneath your caliber.

Plus, I needed a second business suit in case I ever get a follow-up interview somewhere. Thank goodness for the 40% off everything sale and my bonus 20% off coupon. That's 60% off friends. If you have to go shopping, that is the way to do it.

I worked in the park and finished a ton of reading for my thesis. I also wrote two mini-lit reviews. Serious progress!!

I saw High School Musical performed by St. Johns College High School. I must say that a few of the songs are annoyingly catchy, though the actual book is even more cheesy (is that possible?) than its cinematic counterpart.

I went out for dessert after the show to a Mexican restaurant with three fabulous friends: a 12 year-old, a forty something, and a fifty something. I like how friendship transcends age.

Stayed up late baking the most sprinkle-full cake I've ever seen for Dana's birthday. It even had crazy candles. When she blew them out, sprinkles flew everywhere. I don't think I've ever seen anyone blow so hard parts of the cake flew off before!

Church choir was more awesome than usual because we sang "You are Holy" which is a fabulous Christian rock song. It wasn't quite Catholic, but it was glorious. I sometimes think Catholics need a good kick in the pants from our Protestant brethren - at least in the making church more parishoner friendly department.

Gar came to visit and we had take-out sushi in the park, drove around to see some of the classical (and not so classical!) architecture in NW DC. After, we went to down to Georgetown and walked around Oak Hill Cemetery and Dumbarton Oaks. Both beautiful (more blogging as soon as he emails me the pictures!).

Pizza, a speech, part of Planet Earth (quite good), a little screaming at the busted Internet, and a few more project pages.

Today was crazy too. Up early to school to check email (finally!). Then to physical therapy, where after the most painful massage I've ever had (I seriously teared up) I fell asleep on the giant ice pack for my shoulder. Back to school for hours of Internet searching ... those pesky last minute articles for my thesis and checking classes etc. Oh, and yelling at financial aid.

Financial Aid is the most disfunctional office on the AU campus. I feel very passionately that without any training in this area, I could probably set-up a more effective and efficient system that did not screw students.

The latest failure was not getting me a refund check worth enough to pay almost three months rent (a lot if you live in DC), not telling me when I explicitly asked that there was a form I needed to fill out so I could have summer financial aid, sending me a bill when I am supposed to be on scholarship, and never letting me actually talk to my counselor. Vent over.

All this to say, I'm glad I finally have Internet again (even if it is only temporary). I have 13 days to finish my thesis though, so I'm off.

If I don't write for a bit, it is because my short book is in progress. I'm actually excited to work on it. Being a nerd is awesome. Love always, ~Heather

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Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Declarer Vos Sentiments

C'est l'heure de nuit le plus bizarre a moi. Pres de minuit (ou apres), quand je suis seule, sur la grande chaise violette. Il faut que j'ecris. De quoi, je ne sais pas.

Ce soir, je reflechis un peu sur le tragede au Virginia Tech. Pour mes amis francais (practicalliment les seuls gens qui peuvent lire le poste ce soir), VT est un universite en Virginie. 33 etudiants et profs etait tuer la hier. Un garcon a tue tout le monde avec un arme, et enfin, lui-meme.

Je ne peux pas comprendre l'idee de le fin de ma propre vie, donc l'idee de prendre les vies des autres - les innocents, les temoinages dans leurs salles de classe ... incomprehensible. Quelques etudiants etait plus jeune que moi.

Le fin de vie est "unpredictable." Une de mes meilleurs amies du lycee est une etudiant la, dans l'ecole des sciences (ou le plupart des gens etait tuer). Pendant plus des douze heures, je ne la trouve pas par telephone, ni Internet. Personne elle a vu. Et juste au fin de mon classe, vers 23h, quelqu'un m'appelle a dit qu'elle est sur. Elle a choisi de n'aller pas a l'ecole hier. Et, heureusement, elle est vivant a cause de ca.

Si ma vie arret demain, je n'ai pas les regrettes. Au meme temps, c'est un peu triste qu'il y a pleins des choses je n'avais pas fait. Il me stresse (c'est correct?) un peu qu'il y a les gens qui ne savent pas que je les aime. J'espere que ma famille connais ca, mais tous mes amis? Les gens a l'exterieur de ma vie - les choristes a l'eglise, mes camarades des classes, mes etudiants, etc. - est-ce qu'ils connaissaient qu'ils ont un place speciale dans ma coeur? Mes lecteurs (quels que je ne connais pas par les noms propre), mes profs ... c'est difficile a dire a tout le monde, tout le temps nos emotions pour eux.

Un "quirk" que j'ai c'est que chaque fois que quelqu'un me plait, je lui dit (apres un peu de temps et reflexion ... pas tout de suite!). Seulement parce que j'ai peur qu'il, peut-etre tristement, va passer sa vie sans l'idee qu'il etait quelqu'un qui a pense de lui.

Moi, j'ai ma famille (de sang et de coeur) partout. Aux Etats-Unis dans plusiers etats, en Canada, et en France. Et mes amis me support tres bien. Mais mon challenge pour vous ce soir est: dire a quelqu'un proche de toi tes vrais sentiments. Un ami. Un amour. Un enfant ou parent. Tu as l'idee.

Parce que si le monde sera disparue demain, quand est-ce que tu va trouver un autre chance?

[Desolee pour mon francais. Chaque jour que je passe ici - dans le monde d'anglais l'aube au coucher de soleil - mon francais s'effacer un peu.]

Aussi, priez pour les morts a Virginia Tech, leurs familles et amis, et les etudiants qui sont toujours la. Merci.

Tout mon coeur, ~Heather

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Sunday, April 15, 2007

I've decided ...

... that my brave face sucks.

... not having a punching bag right now is saving my shoulder from inevitable pain.

... premeditation is the most heinous part of a crime.

... I definitely want to work on a political campaign.

... sugar, in any form, has its after-effects.

... friends can make almost anything better.

... that the thing that bothers me the most is that I keep getting angry at myself for being angry at someone else.

... to make some brownies (despite the sugar).

Off to baking. Love always, ~Heather

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6:30pm and it is +4

Here are the things that happened today:

1. Got up and ready, finished speech and emailed it to my professor. (+)

2. Went to church and sang in the choir. Best way to start the week. (++)

3. Had two friends from choir over for brunch. One had never had french toast, the other had never had french toast they liked. Everyone enjoyed. (+)

4. Worked on management proposal project. Lots of Powerpoint and emailing. (+, better to get it done now!)

5. Called around to confirm pending dinner invites. All no. *See below. (---)

6. Cried with Dana about the terrible past hour. (Neutral, crying makes you feel better.)

7. Dropped off LB's work stuff and got two new fish, a snail, and a crab for our tank. (+)

8. Took out stuff to make dinner. (+)

The day isn't over yet, so I'm not going to call it a bad one. Anything could really happen to make it better. And whenever I'm upset about what a crummy day I've had, I make a list of all the things I've done to see if there really was anything bad going on. (Hence the +/- signs.)

So I have 7 pluses and 3 minuses. That technically makes today a 4. That doesn't even include how yummy dinner is going to be, how much I enjoy relaxing during Sunday night television, how great it is to be finished with my projects in enough time to catch up on other things ... I mean there isn't alot else that could spoil today.

So why do I feel like crap? Because during line item #5 I found out that one of my friends is super stressed and now not feeling well (which makes me feel bad not just for her, but because we were supposed to hang out last night and I cancelled).

That by itself however would not do this. No, instead I was faced (or phoned anyway) with what was supposed to be a benign dinner request and became ... what?

What was that exactly? I know you are sitting there pretty confused at this point, so I'll give you a brief summary. (SOAMG = Son of a Motherless Goat)

Me: "How about coming over for supper?"
SOAMG: "No, I can't."
Me: "Okay."
SOAMG: "Actually, that's why it took me so long to get back to you. I can't see you again until September."
Me: "September?"
SOAMG: "I need some time to think about things."
Me: "So you want me to not be your friend again until September?"
SOAMG: "Yes." Proceeds to tell me how unhealthy our current friendship is.
Me: "So I am just supposed to wait until you decide you want to be my friend again, at which point, sometime in the future, you will contact me?"
SOAMG: "Yes."
Me: "That seems pretty childish."
SOAMG: "As a compromise, I'll email you in a month to let you know how I'm progressing [thinking about things]."
Me: "You realize how silly that sounds, right?"
SOAMG: "Yes, I guess it does. Goodbye."

If anybody can tell what THAT is, I'd be happy to know. The sheer ridiculousness of some people is beyond my comprehension. (To be fair, that is a summary - but even said SOAMG would agree it is about dead-on with the conversation.)

It is the second time in a year someone has told me they weren't planning on speaking to me (basically ever) again. Who does that? Just says, "Let's not see or talk to each other. Our friendship will be better for it." If I knew how to type the "bullsh*t cough, I would.

This would be easier to blow off if said SOAMG wasn't actually a nice person. (Yes, P, my wimpy heart again.) I have a number of theories I won't delve into here about the reason for their ridiculousness, but one thing is certain ...

For the first time in one of these terrible situations (because it is always terrible to lose (or potentially lose depending on how things go) a friend), I can honestly say that it isn't my fault. I didn't do anything wrong. I wasn't mean or harsh - in fact, I was probably too nice.

I am, as always, the type of person who would probably seriously consider being their friend again if they asked. (Do you think masochism could be genetic?) I guess we'll see how it goes.

In the meantime, I have dinner to cook, TV to enjoy, and four new underwater creatures to watch. It's going to be a fun night!

Love always, ~Heather

P.S. - I do not think it is a coincidence that today's quote is: "It is human nature to think wisely and act in an absurd fashion." ~Anatole France

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Tuesday, April 10, 2007

This Day in History

April 9, 1959: America Meets Its 7 Original Astronauts -

This came across my Gmail toolbar and it was perfect timing! I read a transcript of the press conference and everything. Back to writing my thesis (NASA is a case study).

~Heather

Rejection

I have been rejected alot of times, by alot of different people, for alot of different reasons. Today, it was a job. I think that no matter how many times you get rejected for something it still really sucks. It is like getting kicked in the stomach. Sometimes by a horse (or so I've heard).

The good news in this scenario is two-fold:
1. I didn't get the position because they hired internally, which is a common practice for their organization. The HR director really liked me as a candidate and is keeping my resume for future openings (I know this was probably said to appease me - and it's working a little.)

2. I now have a wide-open range of possibilities again. This could be the sign/message I was waiting for to help me decide whether or not I should work on a campaign. I've been seriously considering it and the possibility of this job, which was a magically perfect fit for me, gave me something to compare it to.

I heard this saying while watching Saved! on Friday:

"When God closes a door, he opens a window."
"Yeah, so you can throw yourself out of it."

Now there will be no throwing (of any kind considering my injured shoulder), and even if there was, I live in a basement. I'd have to throw myself up and out, which seems like too much effort really.

Back to the point. I'm taking this rejection as an indicator that I need to focus my efforts on different job opportunities, balance what I really want, and consider all possible options and implications of a potential decision. Considering that I had my Washington Post subscription reduced to Sundays until after my thesis is due, I probably won't have any time to think about it until May. But, I want to make good post-grad school choices.

I'd like to say I missed the simple days before tough choices, but I can't remember when those were.

Speaking of good choices, I need to stop procrastinating and get back to work.

Love always, ~Heather

P.S. I'm sorry, by the way, if my spelling of "alot" as one word bothers anyone. I made sure it was in the dictionary years ago and got used to it. It was recently brought to my attention (again) that this isn't the most popular spelling. Here at least, I think I'll keep it that way.

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Sunday, April 08, 2007

Renewal

It's Easter. The new light has come and things are changing. The world won't ever be the same again.

I feel like I didn't get as much spiritual connection this Holy Week as I have in the past, despite the fact that I went to three services Friday, one Thursday, and two today. I have surprised myself though.

First of all, I realized I am complaining about alot more stupid stuff than I used to. In this season of change, I am going to try to give up complaining; see if I can spin in into something positive.

Second surprise, I really bonded with a friend of mine. Did you ever have a new friend who you just, one day, made this amazing new connection with? It's the step between acquaintance-friend and friend-friend. That's what happened. How great is that?

Third surprise, I did something that used to bother me and came out completely unscathed. I was brave and I kept my mouth shut in a situation I usually run-off at the mouth about.

Fourth surprise, I procrastinated for hours and hours. This is actually usual, but the surprise was how I was able to really dig in to my assignment anyway (once I finally got started). I hope it came out okay. Plus, now I'm really thrilled about working on my thesis.

And we'll round it out with a fifth surprise, which was that I could just be here, by myself, and relax. Or stick around and teach people to swing dance. Or make banana cakes.

I've changed a little since last year at this time. I've changed alot since two Easters ago. I sort of wonder what this new year will bring. What surprises I'll have to announce then.

I love the renewal that comes with Easter. Speaking of renewal, I need to get some sleep.

Goodnight. Love always, ~Heather

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Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Sites to See

During the daytime, I took Clark (visiting cousin, see previous entry) on a walking tour to enjoy the glorious weather and the fabulous cherry blossoms. We went to AU for a bit to see campus.

Once downtown, we started at Union Station and walked down First Street. This takes you past most of the Senate office buildings, the Library of Congress, the Supreme Court, and of course, the Capitol building.

We walked around that on the south side, swinging around to walk down the Mall. We tried to stop in the Botanical Gardens, but we were ten minutes late. So we strolled down the Mall looking at the other museums (and all the people filtering out).

This takes you past the Native American Museum, Air & Space, Hirshorn Sculpture, the Voyage outdoor planet exhibit, and Smithsonian Castle. There are a bunch of museums on the other side too, but we stuck to the one side.

Afterwards, we took the metro home and made tuna steaks, stewed tomatoes with ocra, and rice for dinner. Good weather afternoons in the city with family are irreplacable.

Hugs to all, ~Heather

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Monuments at Midnight

My cousin Clark was recently visiting, so I took him on a walk of the monuments at midnight. This is awesome for many reasons.
  1. There are significantly fewer tourists in the middle of the night.
  2. Some of the monuments are easier to see or look nicer at night.
  3. The chances of getting hit by a car in traffic is eliminated because there is no traffic.
We started at Farragut North metro and walked south to the White House. This took us through Lafayette Park, where I gave Clark a mini-version of the ghost tour I took in October. We saw the Dept. of the Treasury and the Old Executive Office Building (OEOB), and of course, the White House.

We continued south past the Ellipse (stopping at some statues along the way). We walked down 15th St. past the Commerce Dept. and out to the Washington Monument. From the top of the hill where the Washington Monument is you can see the Capitol building, the White House (from the other side), the Reflecting Pool, and the Lincoln Memorial (among other things).

From there we went to the WWII memorial and then down past the reflecting pool (finally refilled!) to the Lincoln Memorial. I think Clark counted 58 steps up. Did you know that the Lincoln Memorial was made to be 19 feet tall instead of the original 11 or 12 because the building was too big and it dwarfed the prototype statue? It was originally considered an eyesore - as was the Jefferson Memorial, which we saw from a distance.

By the time we got to Lincoln, our legs were feeling the burn. Some Washingtonians would say we were out of shape. Some of you who are less familiar might think we'd gone pretty far. In reality, I'd say it was about 2 miles (so far).

We asked the guard for directions to the Foggy Bottom metro. Our tour then continued heading north on 23rd St. We went past the Dept. of the Navy, the State Dept., George Washington University, and through Foggy Bottom to get to the metro.

**As a side note, on this leg of the trip a man who was lost looking for Union Station (clear on the other side of town) asked us for directions. I was proud to be able to give him simple directions AND landmarks. This is exceptional because until that point I was pretty certain we were on the wrong road to get to the metro!**

Our whole trip (including metro) was about 40 blocks, three hours, three sets of directions (two for us, one for the lost man), and three metro trains. It was gorgeous weather, a clear sky, and well-lit, tourist-free monument touring.

I'm glad Clark came to visit, because I'd never actually done that whole walk before, and it was really fun. Come visit and I'd be happy to show you around too!

Love always, ~Heather

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