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10:49am 28/08/2008
I'm coming back to Virginia! I know most of you have already left for school, but give me a call if you're still in the area. I fly out for France on Tuesday, so it'll have to be a quick visit...

Hope you're all having a good back-to-school!
location: Outerbanks, NC
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11:36pm 06/05/2008
I have a thesis topic and an advisor! Tentatively writing on Madagascar as a Cold War battleground during the late 1940s, looking at the intersection of French colonial policy and American anticommunism and the effect on the local nationalist movement. Although the choice of Madagascar is fairly arbitrary, I'm pretty excited about it - I think the topic will allow me to combine my interests in World War II, the Cold War, and the political/literary movements of French decolonization (Cesaire, Fanon, etc.). Plus, if all goes to plan, I'll spend the first three weeks of September researching in the south of France! Can't get much better than that.

Just finalized my class schedule for next year as well - strange that it's almost over! And that I'm only taking three non-history classes next year...

I had lunch with a super-senior today, who will graduate a year late this spring. We talked about post-graduation goals and the struggle to find the "right" career path - the familiar problem of plenty, too many options and the sense that there's only one perfect solution. State Department, graduate school, history research? New England, Washington, France? I'm so fixated on the next six months, but I really need to start wading through the options. Just out of curiosity, how many of you want to end up back in the Virginia/D.C. area?

Boys are confusing. The awkwardness (mainly inability to make eye contact with me) could be a good sign... or he could be trying to ignore me. Huh. Frustratingly, something little happens every time I convince myself to write the whole thing off. I just want to shake him and get a clear response either way, but I suppose I should be a little more subtle given that this whole mess began when I allowed myself to get carried away at formal. Luckily, we have several mutual friends, so I'm going to start working that connection... now that we only have three weeks left of the term. Perfect.

I will be home on June 3. That's the only sure date in Virginia for the summer, so I'd love to catch up with you guys if you're in town then. Best of luck with finals for you semester kids!

PS. Lisa, we'll only be 2 hours apart this summer! I'll hopefully have the weekends off, so I'd love to come visit USC or meet somewhere half way.
mood: calmcalm
music: Zundada, Zion
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05:49pm 21/12/2007
As usual, I'm a little shocked by how quickly the terms fly by! Winter term starts in just under three weeks - no more relaxed days of reading and cooking, watching movies and running, ambling downtown and following my own schedule. I've had a productive off-term; I thought a lot about life after college and what kind of environment I want to work in, and I've enjoyed the time with my family (although frankly, I need some college-aged fun!).

I know I ranted about my State Department job, and I want to set the record straight so I don't discourage any potential interns. It's a great place to work, and I highly recommend interning there if you're considering government work or the Foreign Service. I complained because my office didn't have enough work to keep me (not to mention the other intern) busy, and the inactivity drove me crazy. Also, I found the bureaucracy and enormous building claustrophobic - but I get antsy whenever I can't determine my own schedule (something I'm going to have to work through anyway...). So take whatever I said with a large grain of salt, and recognize that each office will offer a different experience.

That being said, I'm so, so, SO excited that I will be far away from government work next summer - I just got accepted as a counselor and mountaineering instructor at Camp Green Cove! Green Cove is a sleep-away, all-girls outdoors camp in the Smoky Mountains of North Carolina; my sister's gone there for four years. Rebecca's had such a great experience (her stories and pictures have made me jealous for years!), and now I'll get to share her last year as camper. As a mountaineering instructor, I'll help lead backpacking and rock climbing trips - I can't wait!! Have any of you seen Last of the Mohicans? The story is set in upstate New York, but the movie was actually filmed in the beautiful mountains outside Green Cove - the campers go sliding down the natural waterslides shown in the movie!

Some of Rebecca's camp picturesCollapse )

And just for fun, some book recommendations from the past few months!
- Susanna Clarke: Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrel
- Barbara Kingsolver: Bean Trees, Pigs in Heaven
- Ian McEwan: Amsterdam
- Anita Brookner: Hotel du Lac, Leaving Home
- Neil Gaimen: Stardust
- Thomas Hardy: Tess of the d'Urbervilles
- Henning Mankell: Firewall (good Swedish mysteries!)
- W. Somerset Maugham: The Painted Veil
- Anthony Burgess: A Clockwork Orange
- David Lodge: The British Museum is Falling Down (short, witty, and crazy-funny)
- Rajiv Chandrasekaran: Imperial Life in the Emerald City: Inside Iraq's Green Zone (I felt slightly criminal reading this inside State... though as the book shows, DOS was pretty much barred from the early reconstruction)

Hope to see you all soon! I'll be in town until January 5th.
mood: bouncybouncy
music: Regina Spektor
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09:54pm 25/09/2007
You should all watch the Democratic Presidential Debate at Dartmouth TOMORROW, Wednesday the 26th at 9 PM on MSNBC. So exciting!!
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Back in Washington  
09:11pm 25/09/2007
Update after a long absence! I had a wonderful time in Paris, and then an equally wonderful summer term at Dartmouth - light course load, sailing and climbing every week, great housemates, swimming in the river when it got too hot, and lots of relaxing on the Green. It was a summer of growth in many ways, exploring my outdoors interests, making some new friends and strengthening relationships with old ones. I left in late August with very mixed feelings. On one side, I really needed an academic break after four straight terms; but on the other, I knew I was going to miss the beautiful fall, sailing, and just being in the Hanover atmosphere. It's also hard because some of my friends (thankfully not many) are going to be off campus in the winter, so I won't see them for six months.

But of course home has its own benefits, and I've enjoyed spending time with my family. Rebecca just started at McLean, and I'm enjoying our more level relationship as she gets older. And (although the house sometimes feels a little quiet) I've happily fallen back into my parents' nightly routine of family dinner followed by the news or a movie. I'm getting out some as well, mostly by sailing. I found two casual sailing clubs on the Potomac, no boat ownership required, so I race on Wednesday nights and I have access to a boat whenever I want! My dad likes to sail, too, so hopefully we'll go out together several times before everything closes in November. I've also been reading for hours and hours every week - something I really missed while I was taking classes. My most recent recommendations are Barbara Kingsolver's The Bean Trees and Susanna Clark's Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrel (Jonathan Strange is fantastic! Beautifully written and really funny - I'd describe it as a Golden Compass-esque tale of magic written with Jane Austen style).

And then there's my internship. I started working in the Office of Nordic and Baltic Affairs at the State Department two weeks ago. My attitude towards State swings back and forth - sometime the work is really interesting, and other times I feel like all the work is meaningless paper-pushing. I like sitting in on meetings with ambassadors (so far, I've taken notes for meetings with the Latvian and Lithuanian Ambassador and a Finnish delegation) because the policy issues are really interesting - a lot of talk about relations with Russia, energy security, and visas - and seeing some real diplomacy is very revealing... But most of my work is scheduling meetings and getting clearances on the desk officers' briefings. Frankly, it appears that the life of a foreign service officer is not that thrilling (and thus the life of an intern even less so). Luckily, I have an intern buddy in the office - her name is Megan, she's a 25-year-old international affairs grad student at American and she's super nice. It's great having someone to work through protocol with (and protocol can be so overwhelming!) and just to talk with during the lulls. Eventually, I think Megan and I will get to write policy briefings, but until then it's a lot of down-time. Next week, we'll fill in as the acting desk officers for Norway and Sweden, so I'm looking forward to that - we're going to meet the new Norweigan Ambassador at Union Station on Tuesday!

Despite the lack of steady work, I am learning tons about the Nordic and Baltic states. All eight of the countries we cover are very involved in the UN, EU, OSCE, etc. on a broad range of issues - the Iraqi refugee crisis, energy security, climate change, conflict resolution in Kosovo and Afghanistan and Sri Lanka, democratic development in Eastern and Central Europe. Being on the inside and watching the policy processes on all these issues is fascinating - I've always been rather mystified as to the day-to-day work of political governance, and the little that I've seen here has been both enlightening and, frankly, somewhat disheartening (so much bureaucy! so removed from the ground situation). But I must say, the U.S. is doing some very good things in Europe, and, now that I've learned about our missions in countries like Georgia and Moldova, I no longer wince when I hear the term "democratization" (Iraq aside).

So that's my news! If and when you guys are in town (fall break is coming up, right?) drop me a line because I'd love to catch up! I've missed you guys - I think Thanksgiving was the last time I saw most of you. Hope everyone is well at school.

music: Sara Bareilles
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11:52pm 28/03/2007

More detailed update in a few days. A bientôt!
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12:36am 08/11/2006
Sometimes I forget Northern Virginia really isn't representative of the state as a whole, and then election days come around and shatter all my illusions. I'm extremely upset about the anti-gay marriage amendment, and I don't know what can be done to minimize the damage. Rashmi and I will commiserate tomorrow - one of the many nice things about having a fellow Virginian in the apartment.
mood: DiscouragedDiscouraged
music: Corelli
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August 2008  

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