Thursday, March 1, 2012

Return from Writer's Wasteland

I will shamelessly blame my lack of blogging on my lack of inspiration from my inability to find a solid patch of dirt to walk on or pastoral landscape in which my soul can rest.  I have now completed just about half of my internship.  So I figure it’s about time to begin writing before this blog becomes obsolete with the close of my intern status (not a happy thought).  Coming from a semester at Oxford, making the switch to a congressional intern was what I equivocate to mental, cultural, and intellectual whiplash.  It’s been a good adapting experience, to say the least.  Between my daily tasks of answering phones, running errands for staff, attending hearings, writing memos and giving tours of the Capitol building, I smile.  Because I am watching our government work.  It is not this abstract, philosophical notion with some names and faces attached to it for me anymore.  Our government is run by people, who eat, sleep, breathe, read, walk, smile, live…just like you and I.  Some work here for power, for self-gain, for influence.  But some work here on behalf of the people they love back home, really.  These good and wise people exist here, and so I still have hope, even after a few months of observations from my fresh, newbie eyes.

As far as living in D.C. goes, it took me a while to warm up to it.  I was fondly attached to Oxford and basically anything English when I came.  Between England and Wyoming, I’ve been used to seeing and experiencing scenes of natural and architectural beauty my whole life.  Washington’s best assets are not even remotely related to anything beautiful.  However, I was determined to find something pleasing to my eye here, and I found it in the vivid and piercing shades of magenta and gold in the sunsets.  I tend to be profoundly affected by first impressions of places I visit, so here is a clip of something I wrote when I first arrived:

My romantic notions of America have been thoroughly subverted.  And now I'm in a holding pattern of thought while I try to figure out how to resituate/rebalance my patriotism with my distaste and frustration with politics here.  My subversion actually began with the architecture; walls seem to speak to me and leave deeper impressions than most other things.  I expected the buildings to all look ridiculously new in comparison with Oxford, but I didn't expect them to be as uninviting as I've found them to be.  I mean, I'm in the capitol buildings (for these purposes: the Capitol, Library of Congress, Senate and House buildings which are symbolic of our representative government - of the people, by the people and for the people - and are therefore supposedly my buildings too.  But they speak of an imposing and powerful force.  They boast of a nation that aspires to be greater than Rome, the greatest republic to grace the earth...until America.  It's as if they're not to be used, but rather displayed.  The buildings of Europe are so well-worn and comforting in contrast to the capitol buildings.  There is absolutely nothing else like running my hand along the banister in an ancient cathedral stairwell, or holding the top of the pew in front of me in those churches.  There is something beautiful about how that wood was touched by people in search of communion with God.  There is nothing divinely beautiful about the capitol.  These aren’t fair comparisons, but I can’t help contrasting them tonight.  Buckingham palace even seemed more inviting than the capitol in some ways.  As did Westminster. 

So there you have it, a glimpse of an early impression Washington D.C. left on me. 

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