Anticipation: Makes Ya Stronger, if it Doesn’t Kill Ya

“You deserve a longer letter than this; but it is my unhappy fate seldom to treat people so well as they deserve.” – Jane Austen

I make my weary feet move me upstream through the press of people, some stop to turn their heads at my very bold, popping, should be a construction sign, orange and pink workout clothes. It is rush hour here in D.C. and it is “every man for himself.” I must say that I am happy to report and am quite smug about how quickly I’ve learned my way around the Metro system. I even follow the path of the regular commuters as they climb, or run, up and down the left side of the escalators.
It is often uncomfortably warm underground in the Metro. I call Dad while walking down the escalator to catch my ride home. Home; wow that word sounds like an oasis to my weary body and soul. Cannot wait to get home, tidy up, take out the trash, make my bed, and eat some dinner! I’ve discovered something – all underground transportation systems smell the same. It’s hard to explain or place the exact smell, but I’ll give it a shot: dank, mixture of various colognes and perfumes, train fumes, but also like a wet cave. Ok, so that was a random rabbit trail – back to Dad. So as I talk to Dad, and reflect on my experiences in D.C. so far, I realize something; something that took me by surprise, and I was in utter disbelief and almost denial. I HAVE ONLY BEEN HERE FOR ONE WEEK?! That’s right – just one; one week. Seven days, 168 hours. Ok then, well with that revelation flashing in red letters across my mind, I take a deep breath, telling myself to take things one day at a time.
Today has been a long day, just as this week has been a long week. It’s been very demanding, but good. It weirds me out at times to realize that I am an adult and am on my way to becoming a young professional. I almost am tempted to turn around at times to look for me and say, “Where did you go and when did you suddenly go ‘POOF!’ and grow up?!” While being an adult has many advantages, at times I feel like none of them are particularly glamorous. Peter Parker (and yes, I’m about to quote a movie. Deal with it.) in Spiderman best sums it up: “With great power, comes great responsibilty.”
I feel this desire to blog every single day because I want each of you to share the same excitement and experience the same passion; to see, feel, touch and smell D.C. with me. But there never seems to be enough time in the day and I have so much to do when I get home that times flies by and I drop, like one utterly spent or dead, into bed.
I sit on my bed, even now, predictably munching on animal crackers and sipping chocolate milk, debating what I want to tell you because there is so much to tell. Well, I’ve concluded that most of the things that I would share would be “boring” according to your mind. Like Inigo Montoya says in the Princess Bride, “I will explain. Wait, no, that is too long. I will sum up.”
Yesterday was my first day with The Washington Times! It was a very other worldly and heady experience; let me tell you that right now. I was saddened to see a lack of young, vibrant people on the newsroom floor, shooting around ideas, dreaming of possibilities, showing off their tech skills. That is what I’m used to when I hang around the journalism department at SMU. Everyone was very welcoming. Michelle Philips, my roommate Michal, and myself, from the NJC, are interning together, but are assigned to different departments. We missed both buses waiting at Union Station because the driver didn’t recognize us. Carleton Bryant, multi media director at the Times, and the man who’s authority we are under, had to come and personally pick us up. Carleton, as he insisted us calling him, is quite an unexpectedly colorful character, but at the same time often a mystery. It’s very edgy being around him. I must take a second to point out that he’s a tall, slender, middle-aged, African American man with gray speckled across his head like ‘snow’ on a TV screen. I thanked God the moment I met Carleton, for all my guy friends He has placed in my life and how I’ve learned how to handle their sometimes quirky humor. For instance, all three of us were in the back seat of his car. I decided that since he had the AC turned off that I would crack the passenger window, which of course mused my hair and smelled of diesel. It was either that or melt. Michelle cracked her passenger window as well. As she did that, I heard a gentle click of Carleton locking the windows and wondered why in the blue blazes would someone lock the windows after they were rolled down? I shrugged it off and then hear him say, “Oh, by the way, the back windows are broken so you can’t roll them up.” Michelle gasped in horror, laughed nervously, and said in a sorry voice, “Oh no!” I rolled my eyes and decided to be bold and give him as good as he gave. I shot back without blinking and laughingly said, “He’s giving us a hard time Michelle. The windows aren’t broken.” Carleton said something like, “Oh no?” I said, “I heard you lock the windows.” He looked taken aback and then pleased. Looking in the rearview me at me he said, “So, you’re the smart one, huh?” We all laughed.
After meeting most of the staff at the Times, and filling out all the paperwork, Carleton gave us a tour of the building – about which there is much to be said. I will say that he was forever giving me a hard time and was very entertained by my knack to explore and dart unafraid into dark hallways, as if I owned the place. Michal whispered to me at one point, after I pointed out all this, “It just means he likes you the most.” I guffawed. Carleton introduced us to Victor, the editor of the National desk. We girls shuffled over to greet him again, having met him in the morning meeting. He smiled and said, “You’re Michal and you’re Michelle.” Turning towards me he seemed to have pulled a blank, but that’s okay since I seem to have that effect on people – haha – he finally just gave up and said jokingly, “You’re ‘the other one.” Wow, now that’s original and doesn’t creepily remind me of the “Others” in LOST. We all laughed and I pointed out that he remembered their names because they were the M&Ms. So yes, that is now my nickname, for better or for worse; at least until I earn another one, which better be fast.
I am assigned to mostly cover the family beat at the newspaper. My mentor’s name is Cheryl Wetzstein and she’s been with The Washington Times for 27 years. Fun, great lady – even better and a sign it was meant to be – she is left-handed, like me, and loves movies! We became acquainted and she told me that she has been doing a lot of articles and columns on men and the issue of pornography. I pitched her an idea about writing an article, or several (depending on all the angles) talking about women and their struggle with pornography because most people generally think it only concerns men. Cheryl loved the idea and already has me researching. I got to tag along to a meeting on Capitol Hill with her and I got an one-day press pass that got me through the basement of the Capitol. It was so cool! It was like going through secret tunnels. We even rode this mine train looking shuttle that whisked us along to the other side of the Capitol. I came within touching distance, for the first time in my life, to several senators and various members of Congress – talk about heady.
Well, my loved ones, my bottom is going numb from sitting so long and I must give this brain some rest. Each of you is sorely missed and I will see things throughout the day that remind me of you in some way. I’ve said just enough to bore you and yet not quite enough for a novel – haha! You all must ask me about the P.O.V. rooftop experience where I got to sip wine and look out through the inky blackness at the magical lights of D.C.


Peace out,
Rachel Duke

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