Tag Archives: Washington D.C.

Everything I Need to Know about Life, I Learned from the Overnight Megabus Trip from Washington D.C. to Boston



1. Happiness is a choice. You can either spend your 8 hours wallowing in self pity and regret, or spend your 8 hours thinking about coffee and the possibilities of the future.

2. Get work done and don’t procrastinate. Because you never know when you’ll be able to blog, wash your face or brush your teeth again.

3. Every moment can hold something special. The journey is not the destination, but it’s not nothing either, so take advantage of those miles in the middle of nowhere.

4. Don’t give up. Just after you’ve tried every possible sleep position, you just might stumble upon the one that will allow you to rest longer than thirty minutes.

5. People make life incredible. Nothing beats seeing the smiling face of a friend in the wee hours of the morning in a city you love after 8 hours of purgatory.

6. Assume nothing. The person behind you may have terrible taste in music, but they might be going through a hard time in life and need the crappy music to get them through. You don’t know.

7. Baggage sucks. The less you have, the better. That goes for personal baggage as well as possessions.

8. Other people exist besides yourself. The bus was not made for you and your needs. There are other people with different life stories, different clothes, different allergies and literature tastes, and their way of life is just as valid as yours.

9. People are people everywhere. This one goes without explaining.

10. Smile. Your smile will open more doors and give you more free donuts than your fist.

11. Think. Preparing ahead of time and thinking about the repurcussions of your decisions can lead to better, more effective outcomes. For example, bringing a pillow would make sleeping easier and the next day less exhaustion-filled.

12. Think positive. Since you’re already thinking, you might as well make it positive. Stress causes your brain to ferment, and too often you spend it worrying about things you can’t control, like what you’re going to eat for breakfast at South Street Diner.

13. Call Mom when you get in. She really cares about you and wants to make sure your trip went safely.

14. Sleep more. You probably need more sleep than you’re getting and especially more sleep than you’ll ever get on the overnight bus.

15. Bring warm clothing.

16. Infinity is everywhere. It is in the lengthening hours of the bus trip, it’s in the distance between your legs and the back of the seat in front of you, and it’s in the distance between you and a golden time in your past that you can never return to.

17. Love others.

18. Beauty is everywhere. It’s in the way rain hits the windows, in the color of a German’s hair and in the rich brown of a cup of Dunkin’ Donuts coffee.

19. Care. Care about other people, about yourself, about the bus and the cities that you’re passing through. Care about the quality of work you produce and about the state of the nation and the world. Care even though it’s risky, even though it might hurt, even though it takes energy. Care.

20. Remember that life is heartbreakingly beautiful for reasons you will never quite understand, and that your great privilege and duty is to chase this beauty for as far as you can go, until your Megabus reaches its final destination and not a second sooner.

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How to Talk to Strangers 101: Wear a College Shirt

Berkeley shirt

Berkeley shirt

I pack light. For this seven week trip, I brought four shirts, two pairs of pants, some underwear and miscellany. One shirt is for sleeping, one is for exercising, and two are for everyday wear. One of the everyday wear shirts is solid black, which was a great choice. The other is a grey Berkeley shirt, which was not as great of a choice, mainly because the pitstains in it are huge, permanent, and growing.

In spite of the pits, however, it has been an incredible conversation starter. The conversations usually go like this:

Random stranger who sees my shirt: “Did you go to Berkeley?”

Me: “No, I actually didn’t. I found this shirt. In my apartment. When someone left it there who was staying with me. She was Australian.”

Random stranger: “Oh. Where did you go to school?”

Me: “Boston University, but now I live in San Francisco. I don’t know what the red dots splattered on this shirt are. It could be blood.”

Random stranger: “Oh. ”

Me: “Yeah.”

Variations include people who went to school at Berkeley, know someone who did, or wanted to go there. The shirt has started convos with a professor who used to play golf with Christopher Hitchens who stopped me on the street, the bouncer at a bar, a man on the bus and nearly countless others.

I think the moral of the story is that people in D.C. are kind of friendly. Also, shirts are great conversation starters. You shouldn’t be afraid to do it yourself either. In my case, that’d look like this:

Me: “I know I’m wearing this Berkeley shirt, but I actually didn’t go there. I went to Boston University and found this shirt when an Australian who was staying with me accidentally left it. She was studying abroad at Berkeley for the semester or something. The crazy thing is that I actually live in San Francisco now, so I don’t look out of place at all when I wear it there.”

Random stranger: “Excuse me – this is my stop.”

Me: “Wait, come back! There’s more to my story! I’m going to be an improv comedian!”

(Bus door closes)

Works like a charm.

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I was there in Washington D.C. in July 2014

Washington D.C.

Washington D.C.

Washington D.C. has wide streets and there are many trees. The crepe myrtle is blooming with pink and white flowers. This morning it’s not too hot. In fact, it is perfect. The window is open and when the wind blows I can see the leaves on the tree outside rustle. Then I feel the air on my cheeks and it’s refreshing like water.

The streets of D.C. are straight and laid out in an orderly fashion, a mixture of numbers and letters and state names and other names of governmental significance. They all feel very purposeful. They were built in relation to the capitol and all streets lead there if you go the right way.

If you go the right way and go to the Capitol building, you’ll see lawns. You’ll see green. You’ll see landscaping and trees with little plaques on them to tell you what kind of tree it is. At this time of year, there is usually a group of people taking a picture on the Capitol building steps. In front of them and across the street and down the hill there are men and women wearing slacks and dresses and going to work in large white marble buildings.

There are fountains with muscley old men and long hair riding mythic beasts, and beautiful women riding muscley horses. Turtles spout water forever.

People with maps and phones try to figure out which way to go. Air conditioning units work overtime to pump gigantic museums full of cooled air to accept the huddled masses, refugees from the sun and the oppressive openness of the National Mall. Interns are everywhere, but you can’t see them.

I did pushups on the landing at the National Gallery in the morning, and banged on the doors of the Supreme Court at night. I walked the same blocks as people who have their name printed in the newspaper and have many followers on Twitter. I swam in that fountain, the one with the turtles and the horses and a muscley old man.

I didn’t have any pockets so I shoved coins down my pants to have something to remember the moment by. I took a penny and a quarter. But then I accidentally flushed the penny down the toilet, and without thinking I put the quarter into my purse with all the other coins, so I don’t know which one it was even though I probably still have it.

And somewhere in the National Air and Space Museum, a raw almond rests underneath a display case, accidentally dropped from my hand and then kicked out of sight to rest forever until vacuumed up.

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Mine Eyes Have Seen the Glory of the Cushioned Lawn Chair

Cushioned lawn chairs.

Cushioned lawn chairs.

I have been there. I have seen the nation’s Capitol. I have walked the red, white, and blue pathways between trees and gardens and courtyards and hotdog stands and even more trees and tourists wearing tennis shoes and little dogs and bigger dogs and barricades and motorcades and esplanades and ice cream trucks.

I have sheltered myself from the hideous rays of the sun, cursed myself for wearing black skinny jeans and a grey shirt that shows sweat faster than I can produce it, and talked to my mom on the phone in the National Gallery after seeing masterpieces by Monet, Manet and other people that I can’t remember.

Yes, I have seen the glory. Yes, I have seen the power. Yes, I have seen stacks on stacks of marble buildings sandwiched between lawns that know no end. Yes, I have seen the irony in buildings dedicated to populations we have decimated and yes I have seen the waves of government workers in their slacks and white shirts and polished shoes going to do the will of a people that has forgotten to vote.

Seek, they say, and you shall find. Go, they say, and you will arrive. I tell you this, that I sought treasure and I have found it. I went to find destiny and I have found it.

In the courtyard in front of the U.S. Botanical Gardens there is a bounty beyond worth to a weary traveler, something so delectable and holy that only a few know about it or experience it.

It is cushioned lawn furniture, and it is heaven. This is not just a park bench. This is not merely a wooden chair. Nay, my friend. This is a park bench and a chair with a thick green cushion on it, free for anyone to sit and rest on for as long as they like and contemplate the likeness of President Garfield, who was assassinated not very far from the spot.

To one used to the concrete wastelands of San Francisco, the idea of a public, cushioned park bench is almost as loony as free coffee at a physical library. For this is not a world of free lunches, free back scratches, or free cushions. Unless, of course, they’ve already been paid for through taxes.

I wish I could comment on the brilliance of a Degas that I saw today, or perhaps the strange nature of travel and how it both brings you closer to people yet also distances you from them. Instead, I can only think – nay, I can only dream – of the lawn furniture at the U.S. Botanical Gardens. Such plushness. Such wonder. Such glory. Amen.

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