Farewell, Capitol Hill

Politics brought me to Washington, DC.  As I have told countless people, and National Public Radio (story here), I worked on my first campaign when I was eight.  I went door-to-door for a local NY Assemblyman who was running for Congress.  On election night, we went to the campaign headquarters to watch the results come in.  When the areas I canvassed had a huge turnout for my candidate, I thought it was because of my hard work (Who can resist a cute, little girl with red hair and freckles?  The mean woman at the end of the street with the mean and large German Shepard, that’s who.  She had her dog chase me from her property.) and was hooked.

My first job after college was on Capitol Hill — for Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-Ca).   I have lived here most of my time in Washington, DC.  I am obsessed with Congress and the legislative process.   Will always believe that the Senate is like grad school where the House is kindergarten.  And if you have never gotten into watching C-Span coverage of the House of Representatives, well, it can be like a good tennis match.  Rafa Nadal v. Roger Federer good.

Life on the Hill has been a great experience.  This is like a small town in a, well, my frame of reference is New York so, in a small city.  People here really look out for each other.  Case in point, back when I had a landline, I returned from work to get the following messages:

  1. This is your neighborhood watch, we think we saw some suspicious people outside of your place.  Please be careful when you come home.
  2. There are definitely two people outside your apartment and we think there may be a third in the bushes.
  3. We went by again and there are the three people – it looks like they are waiting to rob you, or anyone else, when you get home.  We’re calling the police to report it.
  4. We called the police and they chased everyone away from your place.  They are also keeping a car on the block for the next few hours so you should be fine coming in.  Hope you have a nice night.

I remain relieved that I didn’t get home at anytime before message number four and it could be my inherent, dark personality but that whole exchange left me feeling like my neighbors had my back.  Another time, right after I was mugged, one of my neighbors (this happened right in front of my apartment) made it a point to keep his pitbull, “Precious,” outside in his yard around the time when I usually came home.  People would cross the street to not walk by that dog.

The community feel extends beyond my safety, of course.  When the best dive in the world, the Tune Inn, had a fire last summer, a bunch of us came out and helped clean the place.  We painstakingly took each item from the walls and cleaned it.  Yes, I enjoy my Jameson and like to have it there but that’s not what inspired me to help out.  This really does feel like a community and it was heartwarming to see so many people come out to help each other, that is the point of things, right?  If you go in, make sure you look at the Guy Fieri plaque in the front window.  Then look at the plaque just below it.  You may notice a familiar name. (Thank you, Lisa and Thomas.  I feel like I will always be a part of the Hill.)

So, from the feeling that my drinking water is infused with political knowledge to the fabric of neighbors helping each other and looking out for each other that makes this such a special place.  I make a point to be as impressed as possible when I look up at the Capitol Building because it is a beautiful thing.  This place brings out the Mr. Smith in me (I know you know this but I am referring to Mr. Smith Goes to Washington).

So, it was not without a heavy heart that I am moving from this magical place on the hill.  I need a change of scenery for personal reasons that I am sure I will explain in excruciating detail at some point and hope this will force me to do the big things I want to do this year but I love this place and the people who inhabit it.

Thank you, Capitol Hill.  I am not leaving, I am just going part-time!

You gotta believe!

Being a Met fan means summer is the most painful time of the year.

Warning: This is a TMI post.

Anyone familiar with the Mets, is familiar with this phrase.  I often think it was cruel to raise me a Met fan when New York has a winning team but I am convinced the designated hitter rule is a crime against everything I hold holy.

Digression:  Baseball is special for a number of reasons.  There is no clock.  The season is like a pressure cooker — starts slow and leisurely and ends in a race that can be a nail biter.  One of my favorite things about the sport is that every player plays both offense and defense.  When you allow such a pivotal player — as the pitcher is — to not hit you change the batter/pitcher dynamic.  This produces pricks like Roger Clemens, whom I will love to hate until I die.  It’s just not how the game should be played and once again, love you Crash Davis, I believe there ought to be a Constitutional amendment outlawing astroturf and the designated hitter.

Anyway, back to my point.  Every year I practically live and die by the Mets. I even believed after what is regarded as one of the most historic collapses in sports.  You can read about that here.  I feel the need to elaborate on how seriously I take this.  I only wear Met blue nail polish.  When I watch a game I alternate between really watching and only having it on in the background.  Depending on how they are doing when I do either.  My Met clothing — Jose Reyes jersey, 1986 t-shirt, old school, blue satin jacket, hat, necklace — gets switched up  — are they doing better when I have the hat on?  Should I take the jacket off?  Now, I know I sound crazy — and I am — but any Met fan will tell you, we are a superstitious lot.  I know intellectually that nothing I do will impact the game — and I also know they can’r hear me when I yell at the TV.  My sports related Tourettes kicks in big time when I watch the Mets (and 4ers, tennis, etc.).

But despite all the loss and all the heartbreak, I believe in the Mets.  So why can’t I have the same belief in myself?  Because I have way more successes than the Mets (at least since 1986).  My successes & failures are not as public as a major baseball franchise will ever be but every day I succeed at my job, my writing and my other endeavors.  On occasion I succeed at doing stand-up comedy.  That rocks my world.

Yet, I still don’t give myself the faith I give the Mets.  Something is wrong with this picture.  You might be wondering why I am telling you this.  One goal I have for this year is to change that.  Because: I’m good enough, I am smart enough and doggone it, people like me. (Thank you Stewart Smalley.)  I have read that telling people about a goal makes it easier to achieve — or maybe you are more likely to succeed — and I want to make this happen.

It may be late for New Year’s resolutions but mine now are:

  1. Focus on doing ONE thing at a time.
  2. Remember that lesson I learned when trekking to Everest.  We would come to a hill that was super steep (going down was harder than up) and I would think there is no way I can make it all the way down that.  Then I would tell myself ok, maybe you cannot make it all the way but you can take the next step.  I made it base camp.
  3. Make at least five people I don’t know smile every day.  Work up to 10.
  4. Start to believe that I am more than my weight. And no, I am not the fattest person on earth like I like to think.  Plus this body got me up Kilimanjaro (19,341 ft) and made it to Everest Base Camp (18,192 ft) and that’s pretty awesome.
  5. Celebrate accomplishments and learn from setbacks.
  6. Be better to myself and the people I care about. (I have been a total asshat lately, to the people who have had to deal with me, and you know who you are, I am sorry.)

So there you have it.  My belated resolutions.  Back to your regular scheduled programming… political thoughts will be back tomorrow. Or later today.