Posted by: capitalgirl | December 22, 2009

My Last Day in D.C.

So I’m hoping, anyways. I’ve had three cancelled flights so far, and am sitting in the airport hoping desperately that I don’t have to face another one. Fourth time’s the charm, right?

Anyways, it’s hard to believe I’m actually heading home. Originally, I was super-sad to be leaving – D.C. has been incredible, and even now I find it difficult to think about going back to Ottawa. Admittedly, three days of flight delays and stress has made me slightly more enthusiastic to get home, if only because it means I won’t have to look at an airport again for a while. Still, I think that when I get back to Ottawa, there are going to be some things I do differently.

For one, I’m getting business cards printed and handing them out to everyone. If there’s one habit that I have definitely developed, it is the business card addiction that runs rampant here. Even though it may get me some odd looks when I come home, it’s something that I now find eminently logical: why not hand out a card with one’s contact information, rather than fiddling around with a cocktail napkin in order to illegibly scribble one’s name and phone number in the hope that one’s companion might remember who said napkin belongs to and also be able to read said napkin’s information? It makes sense to me, and it also just seems polite.

I also know that I’m going to make a bigger effort to go out more often. It’s only after I started getting into the habit of going out regularly in D.C. that I realized how much of a rut my social life had sunk into. I never went out during the week in Ottawa, and weekends I always went dancing. I was nausea-inducingly consistent, and it was so boring. In D.C., I went out to trivia nights, I went out with different groups of people, I went to concerts and museums and restaurants and I did it just as often during the week as I did on weekends. (Part of that was attending networking events, which I also definitely want to keep up with.) I know Ottawa is comparatively boring, but with any luck I will be able to keep myself occupied through sheer force of will. If I sink back into that rut, I am going to be just as bored as I was before I left.

I’ve also developed an obsession with political maneuvering. I can’t deal with the fact that I’ll be out of the loop now! There really is nothing like opening the newspaper only to discover that the high-ranking politician you saw speak a week ago is now being investigated for ethics violations. And watching the health care bill more through Congress has been incredible. That I was in town when the Senate vote happened was one of the few bright spots in my flight delay getting out of here. (The fact that I’m leaving now is probably for the best, though. In the unlikely event that I were to run into a certain Independent Senator from Connecticut, I would be forced to say some WORDS. Some UNPLEASANT words. Similar words would probably be said to a certain Senator from Nebraska, a certain Congressperson from Michigan who I think has been misrepresenting the last two letters of his name, and nearly every elected member of the GOP. Barbara Boxer, on the other hand, would get a big high-five, and Olympia Snowe would get a handshake of grudging respect.)

My respect for Canada as a whole has also grown enormously. Our healthcare system frigging rocks, if only because losing one’s house due to an inability to pay healthcare costs is not a widespread problem north of the 49th parallel. Our system of government is also none too shabby, despite my occasional frustrations. Canada’s bureaucracy, believe it or not, is awesomely efficient, from the upper levels of government all the way down to bottom. And Canadian politesse is something I appreciate more than ever.

Most importantly, maybe, I’ve learned a lot about how I work – what I enjoy, what I dislike, what I do well, and what I need to work at. I’ve finally figured out that when I need to recharge at the end of the day, I need to go talk to people I like, rather than moping on my own. I’ve figured out better ways of keeping myself on task. And I’ve remembered how effing great it is to be busy.

I’m going to miss D.C. enormously. I know I’ll be back to visit, and I think someday I’d love to go back more permanently. Meanwhile, I’m going to take advantage of everything I’ve learned, and tell some crazy stories that people may not actually believe. And, of course, yell “I’ve been there!!” at least three times per episode of the West Wing.



  1. Sounds like my exchange semester in Prague, only way more productive (as opposed to something that’s only impressive on paper).

    You need to tell me about Washington, stat. I’m applying there for Fall 2010 and need your advice on the applications, what to expect, etc. (i.e. do I have to be a crazy brainiac like you, or would a frivolous, hedonistic simpleton like me do just fine over there :P)

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