Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Saving the planet: Sen. Lautenberg and Sigourney Weaver

I interviewed Sigourney Weaver today. She is as tall as they say in real life. She was wearing high-heeled boots as well. Very polite, approachable and someone who smiles, she puts a rookie reporter at ease. So I stood with my recorder, notepad and pen in the Capitol as she spoke about the ills of ocean acidification.

Read the story here.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Sunny afternoon on bread

Two reporters and my editor took me out to lunch today. We went to a Greek sandwich place a few blocks away. Sitting outdoors, munching on a chicken salad on wheat bread, talking about story ideas and the weather was perfect - sunny, balmy, gorgeous. Another great day in DC.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

The National Book Festival 2009

Today, I attended the National Book Festival for the first time. Started by former first lady, Laura Bush in 2001, the festival is hosted by the Library of Congress and extends for seven blocks on the national mall.

White tents held up by silver, metal poles accommodated thousands of readers who had come to meet their favorite authors. I heard John Grisham speak and interviewed authors from Massachusetts for my newspaper.

The highlight of my day was a one-on-one chat with author of The Giver, Lois Lowry. I think back to the fifth grade when Ms. Blake introduced us to the Newbery Medal-winning book and recommended we read it. I remember being a wide-eyed nine-year-old who went to the school library and checked out the book from Ms. Tafoya, the librarian. Ask my nine-year-old self if I thought I would be interviewing the author one day? My answer would have been in the negative.

Books will always be special. Writers and love make the world go round.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Walking with senators

Two days ago, I walked in to work on Monday morning and was assigned to cover a speech about energy by Sen. Lamar Alexander of Tennessee at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. Aleaxander took questions from the media after the speech when reporters, including me, charged out the doors of the room to ask him questions.

Yesterday, I was at back at the Capitol, accompanying a senior reporter at Gannett. We stood with other press outside the Senate chambers, waiting for senators to enter and exit the room, as they voted on amendments for a bill inside.

I missed Joe Biden, but saw Sen. Lindsay Graham.

I could get used to this.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

A Hero is Honored

A soldier from Massachusetts was killed in Afghanistan in 2006. He was inducted into the Hall of Heroes - a space at the Pentagon dedicated to honoring recepients of the Medal of Honor. This is the highest military decoration that can be awarded to a person in service, given for action gallantryin action, at the risk of life, beyond the call of duty.

Sgt. 1st Class Jared Monti was head of a 16-man patrol adn had been travelin for three days when he died trying to rescue a wounded comrade. In the gallery outside the ceremony, a four-month old Jared stared out from a photograph, surrounded by many more of him at family occasions and in uniform for school sports teams.

Jared's parents were present at the ceremony. It amazed me how they could lose their able 30-year-old son and rise above the grief to be thankful that their child had served his country. It's a beutiful sentimen, just not one I can fully understand.

Below is the Politico video of the ceremony at the White House where President Obama awarded the Medal of Honor.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Bostonians and Washingtonians

There are obviously some differences between the two groups.

Washingtonians adhere to a military-style system of lining up on the escalator. It makes plenty sense, with people who want to allow the machine to carry them to a floor queuing up toward the right, leaving a clearly marked aisle to let people in a rush, jog past. But my question - why is everyone always in such a rush?

Bostonians - "What line? Huh? What, are we in Britain, now?"

Washingtonians - "I am a lean, mean driving machine. I will not stop or slow my car even if I see a pedestrian a mile away. I will brush past inches of them even if I run the risk of a lawsuit. I will charge forward and honk. 'Get outta the way you neanderthal on feet. Can't you see I have wheels and a motor and I intend on using them! '" (Blows raspberry)

Bostonians - "The pedestrian is our friend. We will not turn them into roadkill. We will let them cross, always. Read: always. Whether there's a zebra crossing or not. Whether the pedestrian cross signal is on or not. We will even let them cross if the traffic light has just turned green but we see them running toward the T which they will miss if they don't instantly cross the street. The pedestrian is our friend. We will not turn them into roadkill."

Washingtonians - "We are very important and very busy. We are after all, the nation's capital. This is where the president lives and all the rules are made. I have a lot of work and don't have time to chat. I wear high heels all day and change into flip flops on the Metro because I have a very long commute. I make lots of money and it's been two months since I spoke to my mother."

Bostonians - "We are New England! What could possibly be stressful here? We like our jobs but work a strict five-day week. We're historic and picturesque, intellectual and fun. We wear one pair of shoes all day and my mother will be making pot roast this Sunday for dinner. Any other questions?"

Washingtonans and Bostonians are spirited, American people. Fascinating and addictive.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

The party in our apartment

Tonight and last night were great. Yes, they were Friday and Saturday nights but I've moved in with the perfect people who aren't averse to traditional plans on those days of the week. But every now and then, they don't mind doing something completely different. So we chose to karaoke.

Last night, we uploaded a bunch of youtube videos and just belted out tunes - Britney Spears, Cher, Backstreet Boys, The Spice Girls - yes, all the usual culprits. Our shining moment was, "Hit me baby one more time."

Tonight, we tried out Zumba - a cardio dance workout. Again, we uploaded a bunch of youtube videos. My thoughtful roommates even found a Zumba version to Bollywood music, especially for me. Twenty minutes of that burns some serious calories! And of course we celebrated the feat by baking brownies at midnight. Totally worth it.

Living with girls is so much fun!

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Working with the president

Last night was unlike any other. And will probably remain that way for a while, at least. With other reporters in the program, I attended the joint address to Congress by President Obama. I was actually there!

As the president of the United States of America spoke about health care reform, I sat watching from above in the press gallery. Reporters, photographers and broadcast journalists filled the space with cameras and notebooks. On either side, pens and pencils made furious scribbles on notepads and people were close to hanging off the balcony to get a good photograph. I was among my own.

I shared breathing space with Michelle Obama, who looked elegant in a burnt pink outfit teamed with a glittering brooch, and widow of Senator Ted Kennedy. Both women sat in the First Lady's Box. Present in the main room were Hillary Clinton, in a signal red pant suit, Vice President Joe Biden, John McCain and Senator John Kerry.

It felt like nothing short of the Academy Awards. Star-studded and fabulous! I clapped like a seal until told not to. Oops. Faux pax perhaps, but mental note for the future.

Loved it, reveled in the moment, gabbed profusely over pizza until midnight with friends and called it a night. What a night!

Saturday, September 5, 2009

In Limbo and Stable

A month in the new apartment with the new roomates and I love it. Absolutely love it.

I've never been fond of change. I like routine but not monotony. Moving to Boston was a big change. Getting used to it this past year, even bigger. So the thought of moving just when I was getting comfortable seemed so tedious. But every so often, I surprise myself.

The new city with new people couldn't be better.

One of my roomates is from the Ukraine! She speaks Russian and is an absolute sweetheart. My other roomate is from Chicago and a total doll too. We have a full kitchen, three rooms, two bathrooms and feel very grown up in our sprawling livng space. Very Sex and the City.

I'll grow to like it here, I'm sure of it. And soon enough, it will be time to move out of what is quickly turning into a comfort zone. But if the past is anything to go by, I'll be fine, just fine, wherever the wind takes me.