I am pleased to report that I did in fact manage to write ten pages of thesis and send out a bunch of cover letters and queries since I last wrote. I am also pleased to report that at this time tomorrow I will be on an overnight train heading east.
I am not pleased to report that I'm nervous as all hell.
Perhaps that's an overstatement - after all, I have nothing to lose, only things to gain. But I do not often trek more than a thousand miles on my own (the last time I did that was three years ago when I went over to Germany for study abroad, but that's quite another story), and I do not often find myself in the position of trying to convince the faceless entity of the federal government to hire little me to do something for them. Preferably something at least mildly interesting that doesn't involve waterboarding. Of course, the government isn't really faceless because I will be interviewing with people (living, breathing ones, I assume) and that fact that I have received more than one (in fact two) unsolicited invitations to things (as opposed to blanket e-mails that probably went out to hundreds of people, of which I have received three) suggests that I am a pretty strong candidate in someone's eyes. My job is to prove that hypothesis correct - it's just that there are hundreds, maybe even thousands of people competing against me. For pity's sake, there are half a dozen people from the London School of Economics, more than a dozen from the Harvard Law School, a bunch from Yale...
You'll forgive me, I hope, for being daunted, because even if those schools are not as intense as the University of Chicago - we're pretty crazy here - they have all sorts of name recognition. I presume that government officials won't be bamboozled by an eminent name, but who knows? Here's hoping the entire Harvard delegation is cross-eyed and socially awkward. Ditto Yale and LSE.
Anyhow, I leave tomorrow evening from Union Station (Chicago) and arrive early on Monday afternoon at Union Station (Washington). As far as I can can tell, the main difference between these stations is that the one in Washington is connected to Washington's public transportation system - the one in Chicago, as I have unhappily learned, is not. Not even a few blocks away. From the station I will proceed via Metro to my hotel (without even needing to change lines - bite me, Chicago Transit Authority), where I will secure my room, drop my things and, depending on how nasty I feel after an overnight on the train, shower. Then I prepare my agenda for the following day(s) and, if the weather's nice, toddle about the capital. Possibly meet up with a friend.
The following day (the 30th) is my 23rd birthday, so I will celebrate by running myself ragged. I have an interview at Social Security at 11, register for the Fair at 12, attend the opening session (remarks, etc.) from 1-4, and then a tour and info session (and maybe interview?) at the Broadcasting Board of Governors at 4:30, then, if time permits, a reception at the Department of Agriculture at 5:30 (if the BBG thing doesn't go over), and then, back to the conference center for a meet-and-greet until 6:00 (that's if I don't make it to Agriculture - though I may skip it altogether if I'm too tired). At some I shall eat. And then, if nothing further presents itself (like people who want to do something for my birthday, about which I am being pessimistic so as not to be disappointed) back to the hotel and to bed.
Why? Because the fair begins in earnest the following day at 9, and I intend to be there on the dot to get in and score a few points, so to speak, before the swarm descends. The conference center (even just our allotted portion) is huge and there will be a lot to process. Best to be there early and interact with people before they get tired and snappy. This includes me. This runs until 4; rinse and repeat on Thursday, except it only runs until 3. I probably won't stay that late because my train leaves at 4-ish - another overnight, which delivers me in Chicago just before 9 on Friday morning. Instead of heading home to do the reading I will need to do to catch up on the classes I will have missed (did I neglect to mention that this is all over the first week of classes at the U? No? How careless of me.), I will hop on another train up to Milwaukee to meet my parents and spend the Easter weekend at home. I don't want to do it, but they would be wounded if I didn't. So, honorable gentleman that I am, I have acquiesced. I suppose I can relax when I'm dead.
I do not guarantee updates from Washington, but I will see what I can do. It's supposed to get up to 85 on Thursday there - and me in a suit! - but I may find time to post a few thoughts and/or daily digests. We'll see - wish me luck!