Second Semester: Week 1

Well, we are back. Back in the land of Uber drivers, panhandlers, and dog walkers. Where political opinions aren’t limited to your Facebook newsfeed and where a walk home isn’t complete without dodging a screaming fire truck or a lit up police car. It is bittersweet actually. My friends and family may be much further away but in a 20 minute walk I can be at the grocery store, library, Chinatown, Smithsonian museum or the United States Capitol building.

For your convenience, dear reader, I am going to give you the updates categorically. Feel free to select the ones that interest you and skip over the rest. 🙂

The Roommates

Jane has broken up with her Mr. Bingley. (I guess that would make him not Mr. Bingley then, right?) It actually happened the night before I left but it would have been in poor taste to question her about it then. Evidently his prospects weren’t as promising as she had hoped. To some women a man working on a PhD is pretty impressive, to others it says you have yet to work a “real” job and may be avoiding adulthood. She seems to be alright with the breakup though.

Jane and Lydia have actually been investing their efforts in the dating app called Mutual–an app specifically for LDS singles. (Also currently only available on iPhones so, no, I will not be trying it any time soon family.) Lydia was positively giddy last night after she had finished Skyping with her gentleman suitor. Apparently he is into poetry, art, and getting his PhD in economics. (Lydia is not as demanding of a solid resumé as Jane is. Lydia is more impressed with his elegant interests and good looks.) Lydia spent the next half hour singing his praises on the phone to her friend. True to character, Jane was not lacking in attention either. She had a nice young man call her as well after matching on the app. He was very well-mannered and charmed her with a text this morning that said, “Good morning, Jane. Make someone smile today. I get the feeling you already do that naturally so it shouldn’t be a challenge.” He seems like a winner, but he is not the only horse in the race. Another gentleman made quite the impression on their first date tonight.

Poor Kitty got food poisoning so she has been in the bathroom and missing all the fun. She did get the opportunity to march in the Women’s March this last Saturday though. Her mother flew out from California and they met up with some friends to fight the patriarchy. I was surprised to find out how many women from my ward and school were involved in that. To be honest, the march didn’t seem to do much besides make the individual who sold the pink “cat ear” hats very wealthy. Those things are everywhere!

protest-signs-made-sign
*Not my photo. But sums up my opinions on protests.

Classes

Monday–Intelligence and Public Policy with General Michael Hayden (Google him, he is pretty legit.)

  • An elective class specifically on the intelligence community and taught by a former CIA and NSA director. This class was in major demand and I got in it by sheer luck. We were all nervous for what “The General” was going to be like but he seems like he could be your grandpa. He even offered career counseling if we ever want to stop by during his office hours. Sign me up!
    We had to do stupid introductions and I mumbled about my film background and General Hayden responded with an “Oh, wow!” and raised eyebrows. Not sure how to interpret that.
    During class he was referencing the Chinese demographics and how they are the opposite of the U.S.  when he made a joke about the folks over in Utah and Idaho helping to contribute to the lower age population. Marine Girl and Potty Mouth guy laughed and gave me a look from across the room. “Shoutout Utah!” said Marine Girl. After class Potty Mouth Guy noted how it is funny to watch my face turn red.

Tuesday–Foundations of Security Studies with my IR professor from last semester.

  • I was neutral about this class when I signed up for it but as it got closer the dread started setting in. This is a required class and the professor had 14 required books listed on our syllabus. 14! I also saw that we were going to be required to lead the class discussion once and that scares me to death. You might as well ask me to teach a boys’ maturation class. All the students know more than me!
    This class is also on the Fairfax campus. (The main campus. I am on the Arlington campus with the Law students and Business students.) I had to have my friend pick me up since the metro doesn’t go all the way out there. We got there early and decided to head to the student center and grab a bite. They had the typical Chick-Fil-A and Taco Bell but then they had a restaurant/lounge thing like The Wall at BYU only it had a bar! I am not naive, I swear. But why would you let students drink on your campus at all? If they do anything stupid it is totally on you!
    Oh, and this class is basically like International Relations only specific to security. It is a bunch of theories and scholars and discussing what policy should be and shouldn’t be. Fun, fun.

Wednesday–Intelligence and Public Policy with a new and unknown professor.

  • I didn’t know what to expect from this class, it seemed to fall by the wayside as I was preparing for my semester. Turns out it is pretty simple. We read a specific case study each week and come prepared to discuss it for the entire three hours of class. No lecturing, just analyzing history and commenting on where it went wrong and what should have been done differently. This week we talked about the Falklands War.
    I think this class will actually be super beneficial to me as it will catch me up to speed on all these historical altercations I sadly know nothing about.
    The professor is the nicest guy who is all about treating us like adults and working with us.

All in all, I think it will be a good semester. Most of my cohort are in my classes with me but there are quite a few new students–new to me, not the program. It will be fun to meet new people and I am most excited for General Hayden’s class. The intelligence community is my end goal so I feel like I am finally getting into specifics that will help me.

Job Situation

Well, I came back fully prepared to spend hours turning in resumés and get rejected but a certain new president put a damper on that one. Thanks to the executive order freezing hiring for the Federal government, a myriad of internships and entry-level positions are now closed to me. What’s worse is that I had my heart set on an internship I had already applied for and was supposed to get an answer from any day now. I got out of the shower Monday morning and heard my phone buzz only to get the same email that many of my classmates did: all the internship positions we had applied for had been cancelled. To add insult to injury, the next executive order announced the building of an expensive wall. My guess is the money he is “saving” by weeding out unnecessary federal jobs is going straight to a 2,000 mile-long bandaid.

Social Life

I officially did the whole “brunch” thing finally. It is the worst. $35 for all you can eat and $0.25 mimosas. The catch? Everyone in your party has to order that or no one gets it. If you don’t drink you are basically subsidizing everyone else’s mid-day alcohol consumption. But it turned out to be a beneficial experience as I was able to get some networking in. One of the girls invited to this birthday party has worked with the intelligence community and knows all the in’s and out’s. She gave me her business card–which is the currency of grad students. SCORE.

D.C. Life

I accidentally joined a demonstration today. Okay, well sort of accidentally-on-purpose.

I decided that my reading was more of a sleep-aid and that it would be more productive of me to take a walk. Plus, my book had come in at the library so I needed to go pick it up. (College tip: don’t buy books if you don’t have to. Chances are your school/local library will have copies and if they don’t you can do interlibrary loans!) I picked up my novel and decided I would just pop on over to the National Air and Space Museum. I had been wanting to go there forever and as they say, there is no better time than the present. Well I meandered toward the National Mall and before I knew it I was walking in the midst of a little family with signs.

A helicopter was flying in circles overhead and cop cars were blocking the streets in front. I saw people marching in the distance and I wondered if it was just some leftover women doing their thing until I traversed another block and the little group turned into a sea. Instantly the stampede scene from The Lion King played in my mind. These people were marching at about a tenth of the speed of those wildebeests but you get the picture… They just kept coming!

It was the March for Life; a march calling for the defunding of Planned Parenthood. It was an interesting group of people–they were all church groups and christian school groups. Tons of kids and families. More kids in ten minutes than I have seen my whole time in Washington! I have also never seen so many priests and robed gentlemen in one place. Everyone was chanting, “We love babies!” and the kids were high-fiving the police officers. My curiosity got the better of me and I decided to walk beside them and see what was at the end. I figured they were either headed to the Capitol or the White House but I wanted to know for sure. As I got closer to the Senate building where it ended, there were the most horrible pictures of abortions. There were kids in this crowd seeing those pictures!

Just a thought–this is why protests and marches seem uneconomical to me. Usually, only like-minded people are going to be near the demonstration area. The only opposing individuals daring to venture close are the ones who are so set in their view that they are coming to convince you and not likely to have their minds changed themselves. As for the politicians, they are in meetings all day and probably not likely to see your signs and hear your chants. I guess you do get the media coverage and that is beneficial to your cause. But I also had these random ideas of alternatives to marching. These people literally fly and drive in from all over the country and spend all this money to walk down a specific street. Why not instead set up a foundation that people can donate that money to? Then you could use the money to help educate women who think abortions are their only option. Or donate it to families who are trying to adopt. Admittedly these are not super thought out ideas but just thinking out loud here… I am sure there is a better way to inspire change than demanding it. When you force people to adopt your opinion you skip that crucial step of creating understanding. Change is more likely to occur and to stick if people understand why this change is beneficial or needed in the first place. Also, I am going to take it a step further and say that you can’t convert people to your view until you understand their view. Screaming at a woman that she is murdering her baby (which was happening at this march) is not going to change her mind. But maybe if you figure out why she wants the abortion in the first place you can figure out a better way to approach her. Just saying…

Anyway, the Air and Space Museum is SO COOL. This is probably the one museum in existence that I actually want to read all the plaques in. I would have stayed forever but I was worn out from braving the winds to follow the demonstrators and had to rush out before they all caught up and overcrowded the place. I only had time for two exhibits until the cold marchers flooded in for refuge. Let it be known that I want to be an astronaut next Halloween. The suits in the gift shop were super sweet.

***

Well that is the update thus far! I get the feeling that I will have plenty more exciting adventure to share with you soon. 2017 looks promising. 🙂

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