All good things come to an end.

Today, my last day of work, was probably also the best day of work.

I spent the morning cleaning up my corner of the archives, getting my project ready for the next person to continue. I’m really quite proud of the progress I made, and the fact that I turned a paper explosion into organized piles and boxes, complete with explanatory sticky notes.

The office’s Christmas party happened in the afternoon, and there was tons of food (free food. free.) and talking with my co-interns ((friends)). At the end, after most people left, two staff members and an intern took out their banjos (apparently one of the archivists is a hardcore banjo player and has some amazing banjos) and guitar and played for an hour and a half. They are really good, and we all ended up singing along to a lot of the classic banjo songs like ‘Shady Grove’ and ‘I’ll Fly Away’. I’m going to miss being able to geek out over folk music with all of them.

After the sing-along, the guitar-playing staffer from marketing put out a bunch of records he was getting rid of and told the four interns who were there to ‘have at them’–which, after politely thanking him and watching him leave, we did with great enthusiasm. I only took three records–by Joni Mitchell, Cat Stevens, and Lou Reed. I have always wanted to collect records, and now I have some to start off my collection! Quite exciting.

At the end of the day, the assistant archivist ‘debriefed’ me, and couldn’t stop thanking me once she saw how nice the archives looked, and told me “If you ever need a recommendation or anything–I mean, I say that to everybody, but really–if you need anything, let me know.” I am definitely going to ask her for a recommendation when I apply to various archives/museums this summer.

The visual materials archivist told me I did a ‘kick-ass job’, which would have made my day, on a normal day. But as I was putting on my jacket to leave, the Smithsonian’s Undersecretary for History, Art, and Culture (who was director the Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage years ago and now runs most of the Smithsonian museums) sauntered into the archive, where the archivist proceeded to tell him all about me and show him my work. I almost died, I swear. There was also an amusing plant incident that took place after he left.

I am sorry to be leaving Folkways, and even sorrier to be leaving D.C. I walked home slowly tonight, clutching my records and trying to memorize every detail of the city. I can honestly say that this experience has been more amazing than I could have dreamed. I have no regrets about choosing this over UCLA–which was my biggest fear in coming here. I love this city. I loved my time here. And I will definitely be back someday.

Why I love college.

At my school, I would say about 65% of the people around me aren’t at the university for the same reasons I are. They want a well-paying  job, or their parents want them to be there, or they like partying every night.  Maybe 35%, though, are here because, like me, they absolutely love a certain subject.  Even more inspiring are the professors. They’re so dedicated and enthusiastic about what they do, it just makes me want to learn everything I can from them. Compliments from them mean so, so much to me–like maybe I’m doing something right. I can’t wait for the next three years here.

Confidence

      My first year of college is almost over. It’s so hard to believe–if time keeps going at this breakneck pace, I will be eighty years old before I know it.  In the past eight months, I have accomplished so much more than I could have imagined–everything has fallen into place so that next fall, I can go work in Washington DC. It feels like a dream.  But I wish time would slow down just a little, so that I can take the time to really appreciate all that’s going on. My eighteen-year old self was so disappointed with the way her life was going. She thought that because she wasn’t going to the school of her dreams, her beautifully-imagined future was over before it had even begun.  Maybe in another year, I will look back on this moment and think of how little imagination I actually had–how much better life is than I could ever have hoped for. All I know now is that everything is going to work out just fine. No matter what the situation may be, I can trust myself to make everything okay.  That’s been the biggest accomplishment of my first year on my own–learning that I can do whatever I put my mind to.