Turns out French is Actually Useful in the USA


The last month has been kind of rough for me and has inspired me to do even more soul searching than expected.  This past month I have spent every other weekend out of town; first for Easter, then for my half marathon, then for vacation. I planned this all out as soon as I returned from Asia but the timing of that last vacation turned out to be perfect.

It was Vermont so I opted
 for tie-dye

In order to give myself enough time to travel a little now I decided to make up all the hours I was missing at work by pulling longer days when I was in town. So, a little sleep deprived, I hopped on a plane one Friday afternoon to head up to Vermont. I’m not known for planning trips out terribly well in general, but this one was even more sketchy than usual. Instead of flying into Burlington (my actual end destination) I opted to fly into Hartford (my usual airport) and meet my friend who was driving to Burlington. This way, instead of getting to Burlington in the early evening, having dinner, and getting to bed early, I stayed up until after midnight after a long car ride. Despite a lot of dumb decisions I made that week (not sleeping, using that week to have my highest mileage week to date) and the snow that was still on the ground, the actual race went really well. I ran it with my friend who was celebrating her birthday that weekend, and we finished in 1:50:10. I’m not sure how she felt, but we ran negative split and I felt very strong at the end of the race. After recovering from the race we got ice cream and dinner (in that order, this is New England after all).

In Lake Champlain
My favorite flavor: Bovinity Divinity

The next morning we headed wandered down to Lake Champlain so that I could get some time in the water; the Vermonters walking there thought I was nuts. Finally, we headed to the Ben and Jerry’s factory. Somehow I had made it through life never having visited; given how much of the company’s revenue comes from me, this trip was mandatory given our proximity. We got several samples while on the factory tour, and even more at the scoop shop. The factory tour imparted the enthusiasm the company has for its product. It was really refreshing to see the company’s commitment to its employees, community, and customers.

After our visit to the factory, my friend and her boyfriend drove me back to Worcester with them; from there I headed to Boston for the marathon. It was my weekend of being a New England tourist: B&J factory, marathon Monday, ice cream, and maple candy. People up there seem to really identify with their community and take action to improve it. This is something that seems to be lacking in the DC area and I think it is what I find the most off putting about DC.

My strategy to make up all the hours I had taken off was thrown off by the bombings; I could not focus at work to begin with and I preferred to be at home or running around outside than sitting there, getting lost in my own head. I took the weekend to stay home, sleep, and work out because the next week I was back to banking extra hours so that I could go to New Orleans for JazzFest the next weekend.

People dancing on Bourbon St

The timing of my New Orleans trip couldn’t have been better. The music and food were phenomenal; the passion that people have for that city is unlike anything I have ever seen. Not once was I asked about my work; the city just makes you want to embrace life and live passionately.

One of the three pots full of
delicious food

I stayed in the Lower Garden District the first two nights; it was easy to walk everywhere and it was a really cute area with lots of smaller shops and restaurants. The last two nights I stayed at the India House which is one of the better hostels I have been at (in the past year, I have seen quite a few). There was a band staying there so they played a show on Monday night; Tuesday afternoon there was a crawfish boil. The food was amazing, we were all completely stuffed, and I actually learned how to eat a crawfish.

Empty heads lined up on the edge of the table

I was really surprised to see how many people were out on bikes. Despite not having a real traditional bike infrastructure, it seemed to be a very common way to get around. There were also a lot of people out running and exercising which, given the heat and the obesity statistics for New Orleans, surprised me. I went running in City Park a few times and loved that you can still see the tropical vegetation in the city.

Upon returning to DC it really hit me just how soulless this area is. Everything here is very comfortable, but the passion that is so obvious in places like Boston and New Orleans is noticeably absent here. This has inspired me to start thinking very specifically about what I want my life to look like.

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