The Armenian Debutants Have a BBQ

         The past month has been a blur. It feels weird to even type that: one month. These four weeks have been full of experiences and changes, but there are a few things in particular that are noteworthy.
         1) I’ve made new friends. And seen some old ones, including people I thought I might never see again. The collision of old and new in a time where I am changing every day has been interesting. Even though my new friends are wonderful–nice&nerdy foodies, my favorite combination–I miss Carleton so much. I miss the effortlessness of being with my friends there and how they know all my secrets. I’ll see them again soon enough, but my heart is full of little holes.
         2) I’ve gotten stronger. There are muscles in my calves that have never been so pronounced, all due to the daily routine of wearing heels and walking up lots of stairs. Apartment stairs, work stairs, metro stairs, etc. Lots of stairs. So I can feel the difference in my legs. But at the same time I am sedentary for most of the day–so it goes with office jobs. And I feel changes in my body related to this new routine as well. I’ve been working on developing a routine to make sure my activity during the day is maximized, but it’ll take some trial and error to figure out what balance is going to work best.
         3) I’ve learned a lot. So much. Every single day. It was overwhelming at first–and still is–but in a meeting the other day with my boss and a woman from the treasury office in Delhi, I was able to keep up with most of the conversation. The regions, the names, the acronyms…all don’t sound like gibberish to me anymore. Granted, the economics was over my head, but I’ve accepted that.
         The last two weeks have been especially busy because I’ve been working on my parts of my boss’ book. I have no idea if he will end up using what I write, but so far he seems to like my work. After this project is done he has a whole line up of things to start working on. And he has encouraged me to start thinking about things I’d like to work on independently. So I don’t think there will ever be a dull moment for me this year.
         However my life isn’t the only one that’s changing. My baby sister just started college (I feel so old typing those words) and, since I’ve been going through so many changes and transitions, I’ve done a lot of reflecting on my time at Carleton. I typically don’t like to wonder what I would have done differently in certain situations. You can’t change the past, right? Hakuna matata and all that. But I do think there is value in reflecting on your behavior and your priorities so that you can change them in the future. So, my humble words of advice to those about enter a very tumultuous period of their lives:
         Try new things and meet new people. There were many times I could have tried new things, but didn’t because I felt content or at times even stretched too thin with the obligations I already had. But at least try it. You can always lessen your plate, but when its over you can’t add more.
         Work hard, get to know your professors, and find something you love. Few things are more satisfying than finding something that you would gladly write a paper about.
         But the most important part about college is the people. Absolutely, 100% hands down. I received a wonderful education and am proud of what I accomplished academically and professionally, but I know that I could have paid more attention to the people around me. I could have been a better friend, I could have branched out more, I could have made more of an effort to foster new relationships and nurture old ones. I know now that people are what matters, so do your work, take time for yourself, but remember that the friends you meet in college will be the people you return to for the rest of your life.
         And the protective older sister in me wants to say to all of the wide-eyed 18 year old girls living on their own for the first time: STAY AWAY FROM COLLEGE BOYS THEY ARE ALL TROUBLE. But we all know that’s unrealistic and untrue (mostly). Just don’t give your heart away to someone who doesn’t deserve it (even if it seems like a good idea after a shot or two or five).
         Anyways, back to D.C. All of this metro riding (about 25-30 minute commute to work) has me listening to more music than I usually do. Top three favorite songs right now: Bruises (Train), Feel Again (One Republic), Dust to Dust (The Civil Wars). But I’ve also been listening to a lot of podcasts, especially on the weekends when the trains are few and far between. A few recent favorites: Somewhere Out There (This American Life) and The Case of the Curious Codes (The Moth). Both are about improbable love and connections and are very beautifully told.
         I haven’t taken many pictures since I’ve been here (at least in comparison to the albums and albums I produced in college), but here are a few snapshots of my adjustment to city life.
Truckeroo2 Truckeroo1
         Once a month in the summer there is a gathering of all of the food trucks in D.C. I went with some Carleton friends and work friends and had a grilled cheese sandwich with mozzarella and pesto. I have had a fair amount of food adventures here (including a trip to the burbs to house-sit with a friends and make brown butter cake), but the one that takes the cake by far is a little place called GBD, or Golden Brown and Delicious. GDB sells only three things: craft beer, fried chicken, and donuts. My co-workers raved about it so when I needed a place to take a friend to dinner, I automatically knew where I had to go. We split a fried-chicken donut sandwich, which was as good as it sounds. The maple glaze from the donut even melted a little and coated the fries. This place is dangerously close to my work and even started advertising an afternoon pick-me-up deal where you get a cup of coffee and a donut for $4, which–if we’re being honest–is all I want at 3pm. Especially when they have flavors like PB&J.

Some other exciting news is that we got a real couch! By real I mean its in very good condition and we paid for it, unlike the futon we found with a questionable rip right down the middle. So, naturally, we had a party to celebrate the full-furnishing of our living room. Everyone really liked our couch. They looked at it, sat on it, and for a while it seemed as though someone might need to sleep on it, but he made it home fine.

I always have a little bit of hostess anxiety before parties because I want people to have a good time. I want to have a good time also, but I also love awkward situations so it wouldn’t be the worst for me if things went horribly wrong. But I was a little nervous because we were about to experience the intersection of many different social groups and sometimes they don’t always gel. This group, probably brought together by out mutual nerdiness, bonded extremely well. Almost too well. Everyone was more than happy to let their freak flag fly and wholeheartedly join everyone else’s parades. Someone even brought over materials for ‘Russian Shots’, where you take a shot of vodka, sniff some bread (because according to Russians, vodka heightens your senses) and then eat a piece of salami and a pickle. More people than normal were speaking Russian, someone put on Kyrgistani pop music, and the phrase “the Armenian Debutants have a bbq” was said at some point, which I felt was worthy of being the titled of this post.

My awesome new friends even got up early on a Saturday to volunteer with me at a local elementary school. Before school started, all of the public schools in D.C. hosted volunteers for D.C. Public School Beautification Day, where volunteers picked up trash, planted flowers, cleaned, painted, and set-up classrooms. I had a blast. It was so fun to do something different with a weekend morning, I felt so at home in a school setting (so many signs that I need to teach….more on those big life decisions later), I discovered that landscaping really brings people together, I got to meet some wonderful people in the community that I otherwise would never have met, I got to be creative and crafty, and I got to speak spanish.

Volunteerin2 Volunteerin
         I absolutely love volunteering (looking for ways to make a career of it) and one of my goals for this year was to become more involved in the community. This coming week I have an orientation for a tutoring program, where once a week I’ll meet with kids after school to work on their reading skills. And in a few weeks I have another orientation at the Washington Humane Society so I can start volunteering with them and hopefully participating in a program where volunteers run with dogs every Saturday.
         Speaking of goals…remember when I said I wanted to learn how to fight? I signed up for my first boxing class tomorrow. We’ll see how it goes. Hopefully it will pump me up to start month #2 of this year-long venture filled with friends, midnight falafel, and balcony sunsets.
mons brunchin
Amsterdam Falafel Balcony sunset

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