sweating + swearing in Washington D.C.

I could tell you how to get around D.C. or what sights I recommend spending a day seeing for yourself. Instead, I'm here to drop some truth. Because, guys, I was an absolute mess on Capitol Hill. Actually, even before I got to Washington, I was a mess. My passport only has a few pages left. This is my fourth one and, yet, somehow I didn't realize the last three pages aren't 'stampable.' But, thanks to the friendly people at Border Patrol in Rhode Island, now I know. 

Onto D.C. though...

Let me paint a picture for you. My physical appearance started as a solid C+, like most days. I had a hot date with the Chinese Embassy after all. Madewell navy blue shorts and my converse. Khaki button up tied at my belly-button and a gray tank top {thanks Everlane!} underneath. I use my favourite body moisturizer earlier in the day, but I think my body has become so accustomed to jean and sweater weather that my thigh skin being in contact with itself sent my body into shock. The lotion in the heat made my legs slippery {I can't think of a better or less appealing word at the moment}. So, that was cool. 

To add salt to the wound, I quickly realized that I had missed curling a large back portion of my hair, which has now grown for far too long and looks ratty af. I shouldn't have bothered with curling it at all really. The length mixed with its natural thickness {I am part lion, truly} made sweet love with the D.C. humidity and I morphed into Hagrid minus the height. 

I'm not a super vain human being, so the fact that my 'desirability' was a sinking ship was the farthest thing from my mind. Instead, I focused on the train wrecks of the day I truly cared about. I had prepared my documents in perfect order, checking with the Embassy and my future {hopefully} employers that everything was in order. The entire point of my time in America's Capitol city was to get this shit taken care of.  I flew in from Rhode Island, locked my carry-on roller into Union Station's luggage lockers, and set out straight away to the Chinese Embassy. I took the Metro and then walked up a massive hill for 20 minutes until I saw the giant red flag waving above a building hidden by trees.

And I got my visa. The end.

Just kidding. That would have been too easy.

I asked for a challenge, remember?

I got to the gate of the Embassy and saw a sign that told me document authentication {what I came to do} was now being done in another building, on another road, another 4 miles away. Okay. No big deal. I wiped my sweaty face off {I am now used to London's climate} and re-routed my City Mapper app. I walked for 15 minutes and then caught a bus. Except, and whether it was me being on 'the go' non-stop or the sickness the heat was bringing over me or my own general stupidity I'll never know, I was on the Northbound 30 and not the Southbound 30. I went in the wrong direction for a solid 15 minutes before I realized the stops didn't sound familiar and checked my app to confirm my fear. 

I hopped off on the next stop, called my friend who calmed my anxiety by saying "You're the most capable person I know, quit doubting yourself." I took that bead of confidence and popped in my headphones and sorted it out. I ran across the road through traffic {sorry, Mom} and waited for the Southbound 30. The building I was dropped off next to was a Starbucks. Confused and also suddenly aware that I hadn't eaten breakfast, I called the number I had written down with my documents. No answer. I tried three more times. Still no answer. I decided to hit the streets old school and go into the Starbucks and ask if anyone knew where I was. A man said that the Chinese Visa Offices had moved across the road in "that hotel looking building." I thanked him and followed his direction across the street, down the way until I saw what indeed looked like a hotel. I walked inside the building and found my way through the maze of doors to the office where I was to get my documents authenticated. I had been told over the phone a time for an 'appointment', so I was surprised when I had to take a number and wait. 

For 3 hours.

I wanted to cry when 'B259' was called over the speaker. I skipped over to window 5 only to have a very unhappy looking man staring blankly at me. He looked over my colour-coded documents, all notarized and paper-clipped, and then handed them back to me and smiled. I was so confused. What do I do with these? You just handed me back what I gave to you?! The man then said that he couldn't authenticate them. I needed to go to the third floor and talk to the people there.

No, sorry. That's not going to work for me.

Exhausted, I walked upstairs and took another number. I waited in a small room with Fox News playing {gross} until my number was called 30 minutes later. I ran to the window and a man explained to me the new process. I was operating off of the old process. I explained to him that the Chinese Embassy's website is where I got the step-by-step process and that my future employer {hopefully} had sent me the link directly. He smiled, "That was before President Trump. We haven't updated it. They probably just don't know."

After finding out I wash my hair more regularly than the Chinese update their embassy's web page, I went to the hall and called my mom. I, once again, rallied and then I went back in. I asked for the new process, writing it down in neat little bullet points until the process was thoroughly laid out for me. And then, I caught the bus to the National Mall. 

There I was, fresh off of 3 flights and a night in a hotel that I'm pretty sure was haunted {how else did my lamp turn on by itself at 2 a.m.?!}, sweating my ass off in the grassy lawn of the Washington Monument. I was {and still am} exhausted. I felt dehydrated, despite surviving off of only water the whole day. My lips were chapped from the sun and my shoulders are burnt at the back. But I got the clarifications I needed about a less than straightforward process, a much-needed tan, and was able to see landmarks that could turn even the biggest political cynic into a patriot. 

It's now 9:20 p.m. and I have hopped on the train to South Carolina. I have been moving all day from monument to monument in the humidity. It hasn't been a 'fun' day particularly. It involved more sweating and swearing than what I tend to associate with fun. But, I learned a lot in a day. 

1. Friends and mothers give the best pep talks. 

2. Always bring your phone charger with you. It's necessary when you have a long wait in a place that looks and feels like a prison {concrete walls and barred windows}. 

3. Check the direction of the bus you hop on, you fool. 

4.  All the organizational magic in the world will not save you if an Embassy doesn't update its website. But getting information firsthand is valuable in planning the next move forward.

5. No matter how large the frustrations or tear-inducing the obstacles, you will come out the other side okay. Maybe with sensitive inner thighs and red shoulders, but still okay. 

I'm heading into the next three weeks full-steam ahead! I'll be moving through the 'new process' for my Z Visa and I'll be preparing for my impending return to Asia. I'm tired just thinking about it. I'll be blogging less and running around more. 

And I'll be okay. 

Better than okay, actually. Because I'm a lucky fucking girl and I have a lot set out ahead of me.

Oh, and thanks to the woman who didn't charge me the fee for getting my luggage out of storage hours past what I had paid for. You da real MVP, Shareen!