Friday, May 14, 2010

Apathy, Apothecary, A Monestary, A Monkey me

I've been getting those familiar, "ugh, finals" apathetic moments more often now a days, which is ok, because it's a typical college student just doesn't help when your job has you sitting alone in a cubicle all day. Normally, apathy is better handled when in great numbers...but the only company a cubicle provides is that of online friends...who I don't talk to during the day since I'm at work. Ouch (Yes, that was an insanely long sentence filled with many many ellipsis).

Oh well, the weather is amazing in DC during the spring, so I take every chance I can to go outside and chill in the sun :) I LOVE IT HERE!! (in case I haven't mentioned it already) I haven't been posting as many pictures as I used to, but it's mainly due to the fact that I take so many!
curse my habit of insane picture taking!!!
But alas and alack, it's something I cannot change. We're just going to have to suffer through my crazy picture taking skillzzz. ;)

So yes, back to my a word. n3rdy. in two words. awesomely n3rdy.

Move-in Day: Washington, DC January 31, 2010
 D-Day of my whole semester, went better than I thought it would. Pulling up to the house in my yellow taxi, I was expecting to see it crawling with college students lugging suitcases and boxes up and down stairs, in and out doors, the hallway being filled with shouts and laughter, but I was met by the quiet brick exterior of 510 C. There were no scrambling coeds, or stray suitcases lying on the steps, just the Sunday morning calmness of the Capitol Hill neighborhood, and the open door of 510 C. My mom and I were spared the task of carrying all of my luggage up the stairs by a smiling guy who introduced himself as Brandon. With Brandon’s help, the three of us managed to move my luggage from the sidewalk into the apartment 2F. Two hours later, after meeting my new roommates and settling in as much as I could, it was time for my mom to go. This was the moment I’d been dreading; I wasn’t sure how I would react. Would I be upset, nonchalant, or a blubbering mess? Thankfully, it was like any other goodbye at school: a quick hug, peck on the cheek, an “I love you” and she was gone.
   The next few weeks, being expected to fly by, moved at more of a banana slug’s pace due to the infamous winter storm, Snowpocalypse. Being house bound for around two weeks was tough, especially because it also meant that the paperwork necessary for me to become an official intern at the National Archives would be delayed. However, the snow finally melted, and I was able to start my internship soon after. The trek up to College Park, Maryland, was a long one, but on the morning of my first day, it was welcome. Using the forty-five minutes to collect my thoughts and prepare myself for the first day of my first truly life-changing experience was overwhelming in one aspect, but comforting in another. I knew there was no going back. I look at that day, February 16, 2010, as the first true day of my Washington DC Semester. My first day was considerably less hectic than I was expecting due to the fact that the Snowpocalypse had so delayed my paperwork that they had to start me off as a volunteer on the Deck Log Project. When applying for the internship at the National Archives, I knew that I would be doing archival work all day- organizing, unbinding, reboxing, describing documents, etc. but I wasn’t expecting to be working on a project such as the Deck Logs. Having the opportunity to hold and organize Navy Deck Logs from World War II was any history major’s dream. I was in nerd heaven, and I knew at that moment that I wouldn’t want to leave Washington when the time came.
   The first of March ushered in my first pay period as an official employee of the National Archives and Records Administration. In the mere two weeks I had been at the Archives, I had been made to feel completely at home. The work environment resembled a huge family- conversations about the weekend, movies, books and shows over cubicle walls, laughing rising up from the desks every five minutes, spontaneous lunch outings to a nearby restaurant. Student employees weren’t treated any differently than the full-time employees. No matter what your experience, you were given a project that actually meant something. “Student Employee” wasn’t a synonym for “office runner” or “coffee grabber.” I was surprised at the amount of college students who worked at the Archives. Most of them go to the University of Maryland, with a few American University students in the mix, as well as the occasional high school student. I found out within the first week that often times, the Archives hire directly out of the different Graduate programs at the neighboring University. This idea awoke an excitement in me that knew no bounds. I had already fallen in love with the work and the city, and now there was an opportunity I could do this for a living for the rest of my life! Curious and excited, I began to ask around about the Graduate Programs at Maryland. My team leader on the Deck Log Project proved to be a treasure chest of information. She told me the little known fact that the University of Maryland is home to one of the most intense, rewarding Information Science programs in the country: the HiLS Program. The same program was mentioned to my roommate, Malinda, by the Senate historian while doing an interview. The Senate historian said that anyone who graduates from this program is almost guaranteed a job wherever he decides to apply. This statement intrigued me, and I asked my team leader to tell me more of the program. Herself being a graduate, she gladly provided more information and encouraged me to work towards getting accepted as a grad student. Over the next few weeks I began researching the HiLS Program and found the grad program of my dreams. When I first heard of the program, I thought it was “h-i-l-l-s” program, such as Capitol Hill, but the program is actually a combination of both the History Program and the Library Science Program. Within the normal two year grad period, a student in the HiLS program would achieve a Master’s Degree in History and a Master’s Degree in Library Science. This program also serves as the pool from which NARA hires many new employees as well, or “specs.” The more I was learning about this city, this internship, and the life associated with it, I could feel my feet turning away from Kansas City and begin walking towards DC. I had started to see myself living here for the rest of my life.
Soon, I was moved away from the Deck Log Project and began to get projects of my own. My supervisors showed me how to navigate the stacks, pull the appropriate boxes of documents, and begin organizing, describing, and organizing the document series I had been put in charge of. More computer training was in my future – the email system, online database, hard drive database, and other programs I needed to become familiar with in order to properly enter in the document information for researchers. Little did I know when first applying for internships, the Archives II facility in College Park was about three times the size of the Archives I facility in downtown Washington. Here, tucked away from the tourists, is the facility built in 1993 by President Clinton as an additional storage and archive facility for our country’s history. The building is home to the documents from the 1900s to the present, which means that a great deal of the collection is comprised of videos, photographs, maps, drawings, posters, and other multimedia. I hardly ever come across any of these documents, as I work in the Textual Archive Division, one which deals only with paper documents. Because we are the larger of the two Archive facilities, we are also home to the research facility. Starting at 8 am, researchers file in through the double glass doors of the lobby, pass through security, and begin researching. Whether it be family genealogy, war records for military pensions, research for a book or a thesis, researchers of all ages come to Archives II to find their answers. They are the main reason archivists have their job. Without people interested in history, there would be no reason to record it, which would nullify the need for a National Archives. 

Yup. I love my job. I love my life. I love my SCHOOL FOR HAVING THIS PROGRAM!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

and now i'm done. I turned in my last paper today, and the summer is FINALLY here!!! 

and I'm a junior


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