Monday, April 18, 2011


It’s about time for a status update, now 2 months into my work here in DC. I’m going to keep it short and sweet, because I have just a minute to spare.

Workin’- Work. Is. Busy. Way busier than I had anticipated it would be. Working long hours and juggling many different projects. I have nothing but love for my office and the values of the Institute. I learn something new every day, quite literally, and my boss has got to be one of the smartest women I’ve ever met personally. However, I am certainly learning what I don’t want to do, long-term. This includes sitting at a computer and only getting out of my chair to go to the ladies’ room and microwave my lunch. It’s an unhealthy way to live, overall, and I’m looking for ways to find balance in the every day.

I’m working on an awesome Democracy & Human Rights Initiative, as well as weapons nonproliferation policy. I can’t tell you how many amazing and swanky people I’ve met in these past few weeks, making me feel simultaneously very inspired and very small.

DC Livin’- I LOVE DC as a city. So much free stuff to do! Last Saturday my friend Sean and I went to an Ella Fitzgerald Jazz festival at the National Portrait Gallery. Cheap wine and free seats = gorgeous way to spend a rainy afternoon, and this is just one example of the eclectic and free offerings in the city.

Making new friends and reconnecting with old ones. After only a few weeks, I’m realizing that this city is actually quite small and everyone knows everyone (especially in the human rights field).

The Cherry Blossom Festival just ended, and there are few things more lovely than the rosy sunset reflecting on the Potomac, framed by soft pink and white cherry blossoms.

It Keeps Me Runnin’- I’ve been training for some upcoming races, and exploring the city via my training. I keep getting lost, however. The other day I got lost in the Rock Creek Parkway and ended up having to scramble down an embankment, only to pop out of the woods into a parking lot, looking like a sweaty, crazed, red-headed, mountain woman. A group of policemen turned around (turned out to be the DC police force parking lot). I just smiled and scampered away.

Common Threadin’- I’ve been volunteering as a chef instructor for Common Threads, an organization that teaches underprivileged kids about international cuisine, cooking skills, and holistic nutrition. Common Threads was founded by Art Smith, Oprah’s former personal chef, and I met Ralph Nader at our big fundraising event last week. I’ve really grown to love my students, and I’m learning more and more about poverty, food insecurity, and the U.S. food system. Next week my students “graduate”, and I never thought I’d say this (because you know how I feel about kids), but I’m really really going to miss all their rowdy little souls. It just made my day to hear Ta’lexus tell me that she now thinks McDonalds’ food is “nasty”- their favorite adjective. Another example:

Joscelyn (4th grade, seeing me come into the school in my business suit): “Miss Cath, where do you work?”
Me: “Well…I sort of work in politics.”
Joscelyn: (pause) “That nasty.”

Couldn’t have said it better myself.

Lentin’- Not gonna lie and say everything has been 100% rosy cherry blossoms all the time since I arrived. It’s been a difficult transition that I didn’t see coming. I’ve been trying to practice Lent again deliberately this year. However, this practice has just exposed some deeply ingrained negative habits and thought patterns in my life. I’ve wrestled with them over the past 2 months, not really knowing a constructive outlet. This just further underscores the fact that I am a work in progress. However…

Redemptin’- As you know, Easter is my favorite religious holiday of the year. I just love everything it stands for: the springtime renewal, gentle grace, and the drama of redemption. A slow sea change is coming, I know, but I’m still working on this 2011 New Years Resolution: balance. Be Cath.