“The Cradle Grave” Short Story

Again, I find myself pulling from my past files for a post. As I move into the new apartment and adjust to the new job, I have struggled to find time to craft a new blog post. So, in the meanwhile, I wanted to post something. As always, I fall back on short stories.

And, as it always seems, this is far more tragic than I’d intended. The stories I post seem to be entirely depressing. Though that truly isn’t all I write. In high school theatre, I played a character who suffered through five stillbirths, and as a sixteen year-old, I had no reference for such devastating emotions. A friend of mine allowed me to interview her about her own struggles with stillbirths and miscarriages. It was a difficult hour. We both cried, and I took pages of notes. Though I didn’t write the story until years later, our conversation (and the role I’d portrayed on stage) weighed heavily on my heart. So I tried to put something together, in words, in memory of the mothers who have suffered in similar circumstances. It’s hard, but I think it’s important.

With all the love in the world, I hope this piece impacts you.

Trigger warning for stillbirth.

In honor of Rebecca and Jessie.

And women who suffer from the tragic loss of a child.


It’s a blessing and a curse, a mother’s link to her child. Because of that connection, I knew the exact moment that it happened.

The movie had just reached its climax, and Ryan was riveted. He held my hand tightly, oblivious entirely to anything but the screen. For me, on the other hand, the world stopped when her heart stopped. Everything in me had lost focus on the film and turned inward.

I placed a hand gently on my stomach. For a moment, I sat completely still, hoping I’d imagined the sinking feeling. There was no movement, no heartbeat, no sign of life. She was still connected to me, but she was gone.

My breath quickened. My lungs wouldn’t fill enough for me to be satisfied. The tears welled as every possible scenario shot through my head. A foolish hope remained that the moment was temporary, that she’d come back to me. Despite my blind denial, I felt the certainty of her loss weighing on me.

The first tears spilled silently. My desperate gasps for air accompanied the others that joined them soon after. I looked around, worried suddenly that I was making a scene. I was needlessly worried; the movie was too engaging. No one took notice of the frantic pregnant woman in aisle three.

Ryan had turned from the movie to me and placed his other hand on top of my knee. “Are you alright, Jess? Jess?” Instead of responding, I gripped his hand so tightly, my fingernails sunk into his skin.

Our gazes locked. Mine felt hollow. His looked radiant.

“Is she coming?” he asked excitedly.

My voice caught. I could get as few words out as I could breaths in. “No,” I moaned. “She’s gone.”


I clicked on the light. It chased away the shadows, but it couldn’t chase away the ghosts. This room was supposed to hold life, not reminders of death.

Ryan and I had chosen a faded yellow for the walls. The white cradle had stuffed animals hanging over the side to watch over the baby that would never sleep there. Stacks of diapers stayed hidden in the drawers of the white dresser along with the clothes and a plethora of other gifts from the baby shower. Everything in this room whispered the expectation of her arrival.

I’d embroidered a blanket with her name: Anna Bette. It lay draped across the pale blue recliner in the adjacent corner to the cradle. I lifted the cloth and held it to my face and kept it there. It smelled fresh and new and was so soft against my skin. The tears began fight their way out again, against my will.

I sank tiredly into the recliner and just let them pour over. My hand rested naturally on my swollen belly as it had for the past nine months. I moved it away immediately to the arm of the chair. It just felt wrong to rest it on Anna’s lifeless body. I didn’t want the reminder. For just a moment, I wanted to bask in what-might-have-been.

It let my head loll back and I imagined the room as if she had been born like she was supposed to be. As if she had been born alive. As if I wouldn’t give birth to a corpse any day.

I released my emotions and contorted my face, furiously holding onto the illusions of my mind: the feel of her kicking in the womb, then the cries of a newborn girl, holding my baby and rocking her in this chair. I could feel the mascara-mixed tears drying in spider’s legs across my cheeks. Some ran into my hair and dyed temporary streaks of black. My delusional vision couldn’t last against the reality of her death.

He lingered a while in the doorway and, though I could feel him watching, I did not move. His grief equaled mine, but I knew he struggled to understand how torturous it was to lose the person who is physically part of you. After a while, I opened my eyes. The lashes, soaked with mascara, clung to each other and the last of my imaginings that were slipping away.

“I should have washed my face,” I said, sheepishly. I gave him an unconvincing grin. My bottom lip was quivering too much for it to come across real. “Mascara does funky things when it gets wet.”

“I’m sure it wasn’t the first thing on your mind.”

I frowned. I’d expected him to take my uneasy joke as a hint: ignore the pain. “Yeah, I was pretty bummed about missing the end of the movie.”

Ryan moved to stand next to the recliner. I stubbornly averted my gaze.

“Jessica, we have to talk about this.”

“What’s there to talk about?” I pursed my lips tightly. “She’s dead. Seems pretty final to me.”

He took my hand. He smelled faintly of cigarette smoke. That was his one vice when he felt he couldn’t handle something. The last time I’d smelled it on him was when I miscarried two years ago. “We have a lot of decisions to make.”

“Do we have to make them right now?”

“Some.”

I allowed myself to look up at him. “I don’t want to. I want to sit. And not move. Maybe never again. I can’t keep putting myself through this. I was such a fool to hope, Ryan. I don’t know why we even tried.”

“Because she would have been worth it.” He traced my fingernails lightly with his own fingers. “We had to hope for Anna’s sake.”

“What does it matter now? She won’t ever know.”

“I wish I had an answer, Jess. I just can’t wish away the hope I had. For a couple months, it was the most precious thing.” His mouth was tight. His eyes looked five years older. I reminded myself to watch my mood. He was hurting too.

“Do you really wish you hadn’t hoped?” Ryan whispered.

I considered for a minute. “I wish she were breathing.”

“I wish that too.”

Silence spread maliciously between us and we fell into it, separated entirely by the sadness, connected still by our fingertips. So many emotions warred within me, tormenting my thoughts, hardening my heart, and suffocating my soul.

“I ordered pizza,” Ryan murmured.

“I’m not hungry.”

“I’m not either.”

“We need to eat.” It was simple fact. I wasn’t sure what good it did to state it. I just did.

He sighed. “We need to eat, we need sleep, we need to move. Jess, we need to keep living.”

“If she can’t, why should I?”

“Because I need you to. I can’t live if you don’t live, so, Jess, I need you to live.” He was pleading with me. His voice had gotten higher pitched. His fingers trembled where they still rested against mine. There was desperation in him – desperation and pain. But, selfishly, I didn’t want to do what he asked of me. Not even for him. I wanted to waste away in this chair where there was still a hallucination of her presence.

“I don’t want to, Ryan,” I protested.

“I don’t either,” he said simply. His honesty raised my eyes.

He couldn’t live without me. He didn’t want to live anymore, just as I didn’t, but if I didn’t stand up and continue on, he would waste away with me. I couldn’t have that responsibility on my hands. And I realized I couldn’t live without him.

I needed him to go on too. Neither of us would get through this alone. The silence would damn us to the depths, leaving us wasting in the desperate company of death. I didn’t want any more death. Not mine and certainly not Ryan’s. I couldn’t be at fault for that.

If neither of us wanted to live, at least we could struggle through the days together.

“Pizza sounds nice,” I acknowledged. I only shot him a sideways glance; I couldn’t bear to add his sadness to mine yet.

He helped me up. His arm circled me, and I appreciated the closer connection. If I was going to rely on him, fingertips were not nearly enough of him to cling to. The doorbell rang. We’d been sitting in the nursery longer than I’d realized. We’d wasted more time than I’d realized. I needed to step away, shut the door, wake up from my daze, and force myself to function. For myself. For Ryan. For our friends and family. For our future.

I clicked off the light upon my exit, daring myself to keep looking forward and not back at Anna’s empty cradle in an empty nursery. In fact, it wasn’t even Anna’s cradle.

No, Anna’s only cradle would be her grave.

“Up in Flames” Short Story

This one, I feel like I genuinely wrote forever ago. I mean, this was from the time before I called myself a writer, so you know it’s old. Really, it’s not great. It was sometime midway through high school, so forever ago, pulled from my files and cleaned up a bit, but it’s essentially the same as I wrote it then. As I feel is necessary with all works of fiction, take from this what you will. If art can’t be open to interpretation, what is? I included a trigger warning, but I expect many people will read it with a different perspective. I also apologize for the slightly morbid feel of the story. I’d say high school was a dark and scary place, but really I just think I’m such a sucker for symbolism that I got inspired by the smallest thing and rolled with it.

Hopefully by the end of this week I’ll have another DC related post up. I’ve been trying, but with the amount of work expected of us, it’s hard to maintain a weekly blog. In the meantime, I hope you enjoy this short.

Trigger Warning for Suicide, kind of sort of in a way. But I’d rather be safe than sorry, right?


He had kept everything. At the time, there had been no reason in being rid of it. Now he’d found his reason: if he didn’t get rid of it, he would never be able to escape the ties. In order to have anything new, anything different, he had to destroy the old. Things had changed now.

With his spare hand, he twisted the knob, and the door of the shed opened with a creak. The hinges were rusted, a sign of the time they had endured. Everything was here. Not a single item was out of place. The light cast from outside caused shadows to spring in horror from their hiding places; their stretching forms made everything seem larger than life. Hesitantly, he stepped into the room. Shelves lined the walls, a cabinet stood in the corner, and the there was not an inch of empty space between them. In the center of the room, was a small, simple table that stood as high as his waist. On it sat a bronzed key, weathered by time, just as the hinges had been.

First, he lay the flower down next to the key. It was small and white and tied with several ribbons. He set it down gently, as if the soft petals could shatter like glass or a broken heart. Next, he placed the candle upright on the table and used the third item, a box of matches, to light it. As the tiny flame danced, the shadows joined in the jubilation, dancing to celebrate the symbolism of his actions.

For the memory of it, he took a short stroll around the room. There were items everywhere: small books full of words, little trinkets that represented something or another. They were moments. Each and every one of them stood for a precious moment. The cabinet was nearly overflowing with papers, each one documented and categorized conversations on a cornucopia of topics. Behind every item, barely visible on the wall, were scribbled thoughts and quotes in no logical order. The black ink had faded since they had been written, but he scanned them still:

“It can’t be easy.”

“Don’t be like that.”

“I know and it makes all the difference.”

“No matter what happens.”

Everything in this room was a part of him. Memories and moments that spanned the time he’d lost so that now the mere sight of them was only painful. It would be tragic to see them go, but he knew they had to. This room was full of the past. And the past ought to stay in the past. There were new things to discover now: new people, new places, new things. New moments and memories.

He turned his back to the piles of papers, the seemingly random objects that had run out of relevance, and the writing on the wall. Then he lifted the flower again, trying to ignore the key at the edge of his vision. He would miss that key – seeing it, being part of it. Begrudgingly, he tore his eyes away, knowing this had to be quick and clean, like a band-aid over an old wound. If not now, it would be never. With one final glance around the little shed, he tipped the candle over.

THE END


Once outside, he knelt down with his back to the shed. With his bare hands, he scraped the dirt up in front of him. Handfuls of the soil cleared away to make a small hole. He ceremoniously placed the little white flower inside and pushed the dirt back around it. Heat began to warm his back as he stared at its fragile petals. The flower had no roots, and so no hope of growing, yet he placed it there anyway. What life it had left would ebb away into the soil in a few days, but by then he wouldn’t be around to see it.

When he was satisfied with his work, he pushed himself to his feet and wiped his soiled hands on his faded jeans. A crackling nose had started behind him and he could feel the warmth. He was tempted to look over his shoulder, to watch his old things going up in smoke. He knew he shouldn’t, but he did. And he was doomed by that glance.

Flames devoured the wooden walls with a ravenous red hunger. They licked up the sides with destruction and rage, swallowing the shed whole. Fire was killing his past – killing it. His mind went straight to the key. What would he do without that little key? Nevermind that. How would he remember the quotes, the stories, or all the precious moments without the objects in that room?

He looked down at the flower, then back up to see his treasures burning. This was his fault. He had started the destruction of his own most prized possessions. Again he looked down and it clicked. Something snapped into place in his mind. Why was he willing to let everything burn for the sake of something that wouldn’t live to see tomorrow? Where were his priorities? What was more important?

It was impulse, really, that caused him to act. It was impulse, but a moment of truth nonetheless. Perhaps he would have regretted it, or acted differently if given a second chance. As it was, he couldn’t take it back.

He jumped into the flames to join his past.

And he burned.

THE REAL (but slightly more morbid) END

#hashtagforeverything – RGADC

There was a time when the hashtag was still merely a pound sign.  Now though, hashtags permeate the minds of the millennial generation. Not only do they appear on phone screens, but they also worm their way into conversation. I’d say I think of them because I’m a social media intern, but that’s not really true. There’s just a #hashtagforeverything.

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Here are some highlighted hashtags from the trip so far:

#ShouldaGoneWithGaston

  • This is my personal favorite, and the hashtag I use by far the most frequently. My friend and I were on the way back from Evita on the metro when a handsome man walked up to us and asked for the bathroom. Of course, there was no bathroom, so he stayed and talked to us while we waited fifteen minutes for the next train. His name was Gaston, he was Chilean, and he spent a lot of time trying to persuade us to go dancing with him. But on a Thursday night after a show with work on Friday? I was exhausted and just wanted to sleep. I don’t know what was wrong with me. I’m supposed to make the most of this time in my life; I’m supposed to go out dancing with a hot Chilean man on a Thursday night if I have the chance. But I didn’t because I wanted to sleep. I regretted it as soon as I got home. Still think I #shouldago    newithgaston.

#AOTUSlol

  • AOTUS = Archivist of the United States, a position appointed by the President. The current Archivist is David Ferriero, and he’s basically in charge of everything Archives. He also makes really good pancakes (with chocolate chips). He’s kind of like our governmental celebrity here. Every now and then he’ll walk past our desks or our education center and we’ll all exchange looks and make a big fuss over the AOTUS. “He waved at me!” etc. The actual hashtag though came from a misread text but it felt fitting. #aotuslol

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(That one time the AOTUS made us breakfast. It was such an important moment.)

#TheBradyBunch

  • Tier 1, as my friend group jokingly calls each other, has been hanging out since week one. It’s a little bit of an odd concoction of friends, and we willingly adopt anyone who comes our way, so our numbers fluctuate a lot. But it’s a comfortable friend group and feels so natural. Early on in our DC stay, we were eating at a hole-in-the-wall taqueria when a man, who we suspect may have been homeless, came up to us and told us “we looked like the f—ing Brady Bunch.” He proceeded to name us all after the characters and never asked our actual names. I was Carol Brady and my lovely friend Joachim was deemed my Mike. For about thirty minutes he just stayed and told us story after story, suggesting bars, and only ever calling us by our Brady Bunch names. I could barely understand him, but it was one of the most entertaining and strange encounters I have ever had. We never saw him again, but we all walked away afterward happily singing The Brady Bunch theme song. “That’s the way we became #thebradybunch!”

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(Some of the “Brady Bunch” [Tier 1] at Halloween. I’m trying not to smile, since it messed up my makeup, but that’s really hard when you’re having fun.)

#JournalLikeJefferson

  • Did you know Jefferson journaled daily about the weather conditions? Yeah, well we didn’t either, but our boss at the Archives is a wealth of information. He wrote the weather in his journal consistently and continuously. For fifty years. He recorded and studied meteorology  That’s commitment. Have a daily habit? Really, I need to write more every day. A set word count or the like. Maybe I’ll finally start the habit and #journallikejefferson.

#InternHell

  • There are a couple things we’ve been warned not to do as interns, primarily to never think any job is below us. However, if any of us mess up, we joke that we are going to #internhell. “Was that you who jammed the printer? #internhell.” “Don’t fall asleep on the job. #internhell.” You get the idea. Some interns in the program have really bad experiences, but our supervisors are very understanding and forgiving. So, thankfully, #internhell remains a joke alone.

#TexasTakeOver

We’re contagious. Apparently. A Texan in DC is hilarious to begin with. We are fascinated every time it rains. I’m praying to see at least one snow here. The changing leaves are mesmerizing, and apparently they aren’t even as beautiful here as they are other places. We also rub our “y’all”s off on the people around us. Honestly, I think I use it more now that I’m away from Texas than I did before. It’s as if I’m honoring my home by sticking to my “y’all”s. Now our friends have caught themselves on a y’all every now and then. We make a grand joke about “y’all” scaring strangers away. We just can’t help it. It’s almost like we get into their heads. It’s a full-out #texastakeover!

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(But really, look at those leaves. Everything turns brown so fast in Texas.)

Truth be told, I really am missing Texas right now. I will desperately miss DC when I leave, since I’ve really fallen in love with living in this city. But I’m missing my home – especially in the midst of NaNoWriMo when I want so badly to be writing with everyone there. Of course, I know once I get there, I’ll miss everyone here, like #thebradybunch. It’s sad to have one such wonderful, but busy, semester, and then see everyone disperse at the end of it. Now there’s only a month left, and I’m not sure how to feel about it. I don’t want my time here to end, but I also can’t wait to be home. This semester has been incredible, but there is only so much time left to it.

So I’ll leave you with one more hashtag that’s both sad and hopeful: #behomesoon.

“A Reaper Reminisces” Short Story

I meant to write a full short story for Halloween in honor of a few friends here. Then I fell very sick this week and haven’t felt like doing anything more than staring at a wall. The story won’t be nearly as effective coming later in the year, but I still intend to finish it. I needed to share a creative piece in the midst of everything else going on. I’m devastated that I’ve been falling woefully behind on posts this month, but I still hope to progress on this blog before my time in DC is up! Who knows, maybe I’ll finish that short story sooner rather than later. Though I’m doubtful, knowing that November is NaNoWriMo. So I pulled a story I wrote ages ago for your reading pleasure (I hope).

I can’t remember when I began writing this, or why. Probably a time when I was quite heartbroken for reasons forgotten to me now. But I pulled it from the depths of my drive to share for this Halloween. Yes, maybe it’s more about the idea of love than an immortal reaper of souls, but I felt it could still be fitting.

On that note, happy Halloween!


I do not claim to have felt love, nor do I understand the justification of such a feeling. I have only witnessed the pain it has caused. Love gives up, gives out, and ends lives. It is a wonder to me why so many put their hearts at risk, especially when the risk is so clearly unworthy of them. Humanity would be much more formidable if not for the presence of love. Humanity would live much longer.

Love is not weakness, as some believe. No, love is very strong indeed. However, to love is to die. To survive, one simply must not love.

To my knowledge, there is no emotion that has demanded more death than love. Since my knowledge is considerable, you should assume that as truth. Hatred is fearsome, but it simmers from a fiery base in love, whether of self or others. Tragedy sits heavily on the minds of many, but none is so gripping as the grief of lost love. Anger, exhilaration, sadness, fear… They pale in comparison to the loves I have seen.

I remember the same loves that humanity holds in history. Tristan and Isolde, Samson and Delilah, Orpheus and Eurydice, and Antony and Cleopatra all spun fantastic tales to be told over and over through the ages. I was there to witness them all. I bore witness to the true pain that no modern mind could comprehend, no matter how they imagine. Only I know the true tragedy, and only I wonder how different the situations may have been with the extrication of love from the equation.

I will not deny the beauty of love. It is stunning and commanding in it’s awesome power. It is the basis for belief and hope, among all the negative inspirations it also spawns. To be fair, I have seen many good born of love in my years. Those same years when loved ones were gripped by tragedy, love united them. Love creates a bond between people that cannot be broken, however much it is beaten or twisted. Humanity is not all bad. Love draws humanity to save itself with moves of service and compassion. It is as if humanity could not exist without an all-powerful love.

No, I cannot claim to explain love. I cannot ever understand it.

But I agree that humanity would fundamentally be different without love.

Without love, humanity could not be humanity.

Perhaps that is justification enough.

Informational Interview 2/3: Jana Laiz

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The Twelfth Stone and Weeping Under This Same Moon
by Jana Laiz

Jana’s Website
The Twelfth Stone on Amazon
Weeping Under This Same Moon on Amazon

When I found out that we were required to conduct informational interviews for our portfolio, I immediately began to fret. Writers who are willing to take time from their busy schedule to talk to aspiring writers are hard to come across. Writers also aren’t easy to find. It’s not so easy as to go online and search in order to find someone. Thankfully, I stumbled across a connection to Jana, and I’m so glad I did. My roommate here went to high school with Jana’s daughter and gave me her website to look up. When I was able to interview Jana, I connected with every word she said. She has a brilliant personality, and I can’t wait to buy The Twelfth Stone for my collection (No, I have not yet read it, but it seems right up my alley. As soon as I have money, it will be at the top of my list).

Jana is clearly a gifted writer, as her novel Weeping Under This Same Moon was deemed ForeWord Magazine’s book of the year gold medalist, and some of her other books have been silver medalists and finalists. She also has enough of a passion for English that she works to share that passion with interested students as an educator. Though she has taught numerous subjects, she is certified for ESL, TESOL, and Elementary education. As I could never be a teacher myself, it is encouraging to see writers who can teach and inspire writing in others.

Unfortunately, I did not get a direct transcript of Jana’s interview, so the responses below are paraphrased, drawing as much as possible from her direct words. I hope that many writers find the same familiarity and affirmation in Jana’s words as I did. Anything in bold is my commentary or questions.


What drove you to become a writer?

Jana has been writing since she was 6. Around then, her mom gave her an old notebook she’d used in high school, then Jana’s grandfather gave her a teeny-tiny pencil and, boom, she became a writer. “I love to make words and put them together to make them sound beautiful,” Jana says.

What experiences or ideas have inspired some of your novels?

Jana is most proud of her 2008 book, Weeping Under the Same Moon, which was inspired from a real life experience of working with Vietnamese refugees. She loves teaching and wants her work to make a difference in the world. So she picks topics that she’s passionate about to entertain others, to inspire others, but also to make a difference.

How do you conduct the research for your stories? Do you have any resources you might suggest?

“The internet is a great resource. Always go to legitimate sources, on the internet and at the library.” She has also had personal experiences sway her writing.

How do you plan your stories? Or do you at all?

“I do a lot of daydreaming and a lot of walking and thinking. Books take a lot of time to percolate. It’s very organic.” Jana begins a foundation for her characters, but after that, they build themselves and grow on their own. In The Twelfth Stone, one of her favorite characters appeared out of nowhere at a bus stop and ended up changing the direction of the story. “I love him. I think he’s a real person. Whether he’s from the recesses of my mind or another plane, I don’t know, but he’s real.” Which I think many writers would agree with. We’re not crazy, we promise. Well… Not too crazy.

What is your writing process like? Chronological or scene-by-scene? And how do you edit (or re-write) your own work?

“Sometimes I can write for ten hours straight and it feels like an hour. Other times I sit for ten minutes and it feels like 10 hours.” Jana writes chronologically from beginning to end, but when she edits she often moves scenes around. “I like to say I’m eclectic. I always read it out loud; I think it’s absolutely critical.” After reworking her draft, Jana gives the manuscript to her daughter for editing, then gives it to a professional editor.

How do you publish your work after the process? What made you decide to take that route?

Jana is commercially published, in part because she created her own publishing company. “I had a great agent when I did Twelfth Stone before Twilight and Harry Potter, but we got a ton of fantastic rejections.” At the time, publishers didn’t believe young adult fantasy had much of a market and were largely unwilling to risk underwhelming sales. HP was a decisive turning point – boy were they wrong. So she started her own company and has published her own books. It has gone really well, to the point of potential movie deals. Although she has to work to create her own platform, she agrees it’s ultimately worth the effort.

How do you balance writing with the “real” world?

“Make time.” Why does that make it sound so easy? Jana is a full time writer and also a teacher for ESL. “I teach to feed my writing habit. Even when I’m not writing words on paper, I’m thinking about stories. And don’t ever delete,” she adds. “You might need it one day.”

What is it like to write for a span of audiences? How do you adapt your writing?

“I don’t really adapt my writing. I write to please myself. I don’t say, I’m gonna write a YA novel, I just write. Maybe I’m young at heart and yet also an adult, because a lot of stories I write have crossover audiences. Don’t make rules for yourself. Write for the love of it. And if you have a great story to tell, you’ll have an audience to read it.”

What advice do you have aspiring writers?

“An Irish singer told me when I was working on Twelfth Stone, ‘Don’t give up one minute before the miracle.'” That is stunning advice, really, when facing an entirely objective field. The will always be rejection, but giving up means you could miss the miracle. Then Jana had one more piece of advice to add:

“If your editor tells you to kill it: kill it, then look at it, and then make the decision you feel is best for the story. Don’t let their word be law; it’s still your story to tell.”

Thank you so much for your time! It was a huge help.

“When your first novel comes out, send me a copy. Autographed!”


And I absolutely will! Jana was a great connection to make, and I hope to stay in touch with her past the requirements of this program!

History and Interests for All – RGADC

Why should I go to Washington? Freshman Renee thought. There’s nothing for me there.

At the time, I was a theatre education major who really just wanted to bring stories to life. In fact, I didn’t even want the educator part tacked on to my degree. Since then my motivations haven’t changed, only my methods. I still bring stories to life, only by writing them instead of performing them. Yet, when I thought of this internship opportunity Freshman year, I wouldn’t have seen myself here because I couldn’t imagine where I’d be placed.

What were they going to do? Set me to acting on a street corner to gain experience in my field?

But, oh, how wrong I was. There is something for everyone in DC. Especially for a few majors who rarely take advantage of it, but definitely should.

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(Beauty at the Kennedy Center, the gem of the city for a thespian.)

Theatre/Music/Arts Major:

I’ll start with this because I have experience here. My good friend here in DC was stationed at the Kennedy Center for her internship. Granted, she does the business side of work at the theater, which is to be expected, and is also very important to be familiar with. Still, she has had the opportunity to attend Evita for a discounted price, the upcoming opera La Boheme for free, and has met famous names and headliners in various art fields. Additionally, there are free musical, comedy, or dance performances every night at 6, in case you don’t get your fill of art solely on the events you get to see.

Not to mention, the arts are all over DC. Last weekend was art-all-night. Literally a night full of arts and beautiful things. Also, the other night my friends attended a party for upcoming playwrights hoping to get their works performed on stage. If I’d stuck with theater, these opportunities would have thrilled me, regardless of whether or not I was acting.

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(Don’t even get me started on the beautiful art galleries we have here. Cochran, pictured above, just closed for remodeling, but there are so many other wonderful things to see as well, like the Portrait Gallery pictured below.)

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Education Major:

I feel that this internship is a missed opportunity for many education majors. There are so many options that would be exciting experiences. One of the first internships I interviewed for was at 826DC, a non-profit that works with students to make writing fun and interesting. It would have been perfect for an education major. Or maybe having a job at the Department of Education, like my friend has, would be a good fit. Even my internship has aspects of education as much as we work with educating the public about NARA’s functionality and our holdings here. We even work a Constitution exploration lab with school groups that come in, which is way cooler than anything I got to do as a student on field trips.

Except maybe for that one trip we did to the Dr. Pepper factory where we invented, marketed, and bottled our own brand of soda. I still insist that Zip Zap would have been a big hit. And it’s still my favorite fictional soda.

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(Another Capitol picture? I see it every day. All roads lead to the Capitol.)

Political/History/Law/Criminal Justice Major:

Okay, but do I really need to explain this one? It’s Washington, D.C.

Sports Nerds:

The Nat’s recent loss was a tragedy for the city, and I don’t even call myself a baseball fan.

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(But it was fun to see a game with friends!)

Party Scene:

I won’t touch on this much. We’re all upstanding students here at TWC, for the most part (I’ve heard horror stories), but just know that there is one. If that appeals to people.

Foodies:

There’s a Potbelly’s on almost every corner. But that’s not necessarily what I mean. There are so many unique food places here. I wish I could try every restaurant in Chinatown, especially the Wok and Roll place that used to be the Surratt boarding house. We’ve got the big name places like the Cheesecake Factory, which I love. It’s not cheap, but their menu is incredible. The miso salmon is to die for. And dare I mention the one and only, Georgetown Cupcakes? Which I still haven’t had, but hear only the highest praise about.

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(Because if I’m going to be here, I may as well eat in the place where Lincoln’s assassin and his cohorts met to take down the Union.)

Non-Profits and Causes:

There are places to serve everywhere. My roommates internship works with the homeless population of DC. This is where policy is made. Where better to make a policy change than here in DC, be it in education, animal welfare, or Title IX?

Sciency Stuff:

Because, let’s face it, there’s a Smithsonian for everything. And plenty of other places too.

Foreign Students:

Foreign affairs is a big market for internships. A lot of the foreign students I’ve met have loved spending time in the US, while also working in something applicable for them to take away.

And Every American:

I believe, even if none of the above appeal to you, that you could find something here to love, without even looking too hard. I also believe that every American should have the chance to visit D.C. as the heart of the country. A power resides in the city, an ongoing heartbeat that drives the country to action. This is history. This is present. This is the future of America. Seeing Arlington is powerful. Seeing the Capitol, Supreme Court, and Library of Congress is powerful. Seeing the Constitution is so powerful. I see it every day, and it never gets old.

I refuse to take my country for granted, regardless of if I agree with a person in Congress, or back a law that is passed. The United States of America is a wonderful, desirable place to live. There are flaws, but there will always be flaws. This is no utopia, and it shouldn’t be. We learned that from The Hunger Games, and other dystopian fiction novels. So admittedly, I have that Key song in my heart, beating with the city, and playing with the pride of being a part of this for a semester.

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(She is eternal – long before nation’s were drawn. When no flag flew, when no armies stood my land was born… Don’t mind that this is a song from Chess and is actually about Russia. It’s still beautiful.)

To Be Both Tourist and Guide – RGADC

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(She’s my mom; she’s my best friend; we’re silly.)

When I first arrived, my impression of D.C. was “white.” The Washington Monument. The Lincoln Memorial. The Capitol. And the most obvious: The White House. All white. All pure and symbolic.

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(As my Nana pointed out, Washington D.C. is powerful. It is impressive. It is timeless.)

As a sucker for symbolism, I shouldn’t be surprised that I love the city as much as I do. And I do love it. I get a thrill when I so much as look at the buildings out the window. And I knew this would be my adventure. I knew I would have the time of my life. I wasn’t even nervous or afraid.

I still didn’t expect living here to come so naturally.

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(Though I do still miss and am loyal to Texas.)

History was one of my strongest subjects in school, second only to English. I know the gist. I remember the gist. The things I’ve learned and retained since arriving in D.C. go deeper than the subjects taught in school. D.C. is built by the personality of history, not just the facts. That personality is visible everywhere: Watergate, the Smithsonians, the Eisenhower Executive Building, the Blair-Lee House, the Kennedy Center, etc.

In the first week I was here, my supervisors at the Archives and the professors at TWC all spouted off information as naturally as leaves change for fall. I never thought I’d be able to do that. Hearing them talk made me aspire to learn more. Maybe someday, I’d be a wealth of information to others, and I could summon it as needed for books, stories, and projects.

I just didn’t expect that to actually happen.

When Mom told me over the phone that she and Nana would join me in D.C. for the annual TWC gala, I was overjoyed. Mom is coming back with the rest of my immediate family for Thanksgiving, but this past weekend was Nana’s chance to see the city. We made the most of our girl’s getaway with every second.

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(We crammed a lot of sightseeing into three days.)

Except, even though we went to several places I’d never seen before (like the Vietnam memorial and Arlington cemetery), I didn’t feel like a tourist. The transition has been so smooth, so natural. I feel like a part of D.C. and I’ve only been here a month now. I feel like it’s my city, even though it isn’t. I think I take a piece of every place I’ve been as my own – Austin, Chiang Mai, and now D.C. – to keep in my heart.

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(Speaking of D.C. being powerful, the memorials here seal the deal.)

And I’ve done that in only a month. Walking around Lafayette Square, and even the National Mall, I felt more like Mom and Nana’s pocket tour guide than a tourist. I talked their ears off with random facts and tidbits on just about everything we passed. I also got tasked with all navigation, but that’s only halfway because I know my way around D.C. and halfway because I know how to work Google Maps effectively on a smartphone.

It got even worse when we reached the National Archives portion of our trip. We spent around an hour in the museum portion of the building as I pointed out my favorite documents and exhibits. I rattled off facts about our holdings, the Constitution, and the location of the nearest bathroom. All were things that I didn’t even realize I knew so well until I was given a time to share them.

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(Also, I’d never been in the Constitution Avenue entrance to the Archives before, so that was new.)

Really, I worried that my trove of trivia tid-bits on D.C. would drive them crazy, but they insist that they enjoyed it. I hope so. It felt good to share what I’ve learned. A lot of these stories are so cool, but history textbooks never touch them. I’d have been fascinated to learn about Dolley Madison in high school. Especially since, apparently, we’re related to her? So Nana says. Which is pretty darn cool.

No matter where I go from here, the personality of history will stick with me. The names and places never mentioned in a classroom, but that meant so much to this country and to me here, won’t go forgotten. I never expected to feel so natural here, but I am so glad I do. Being a part of D.C. is truly a beautiful thing.

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(But no matter how much I love living here, I’ll still desperately miss these lovely ladies.)