Friday, May 2, 2014

DC Redux: My Return to Capitol Hill

It's a Tuesday night in 2014 and I'm sitting here in a Capitol Hill apartment just one street over from where I used to live in 1992. I lived on the Hill for about 4 years give or take with Lou Lou and Peggy and then eventually by myself. 

I was thinking about how I got here in the first place. Lou Lou and I were working in the City. I was at a big law firm -- Willkie Farr and Gallagher. Lou was working in finance. We both wanted out, so Lou called her sister Rosey who was living in DC and going to Catholic U. And off we went.

At first we were both waitresses. I found a job with a company that catered big events like the Kennedy Center Honors. Lou eventually landed at the Dubliner, a purportedly IRA-financed, yet incredibly fun bar across the street from Union Station. I remember the catering manager for this company I worked for had a brother in soap operas. I'm going to look him up. Anyway, I thought he was so cool, even though now I realize he was like a skinny Jack Wagner from Melrose Place. But it was the 90's, so what can I say?

One day I was working at a luncheon at The Washington Post. As a waitress mind you. The Katherine Graham (then publisher of the paper) stood up to give a speech and she was so easy and funny and cool, I thought I don't want to cater parties here. I want to work here. I was lucky enough to have a connection through a friend of a friend from Connecticut. He was pretty high up in finance I think. Again need to find his name because boy do I owe him. His daughter's name was Missy. Maybe Cannistraro? (Nicholas Cannistraro Jr, SVP Sales and Marketing).

He got me an interview with HR which was basically fairly grim, aka apparently there are a lot of young people who would like to work at the Post. Then I got a call about a job with Herb Block, the paper's editorial cartoonist. Finally! I'm in. Or not. As it turns out, I was not their first choice. But when their first choice didn't work out, I was their second choice. 

I still have my Post ID card including a freaking perm that I was rocking at the time. As a young person, you often don't realize the spot you're in, until you no longer are. Such is the case with me. Man I had fun. That was the most fun working I ever had. 

Mr. Block was a hard worker but he also loved to joke around. And such a nice man. You would never know he was a Pulitzer and Peabody winner (more than once). His long-time assistant Jean and I became friends too, and remain so even after his death. Lucky for me because Jean is a great friend to have.

Tonight I am attending another Herblock Foundation Lecture and Prize ceremony. Bob Woodward is speaking. Like THE Bob Woodward from All the President's Men. But there have been many great speakers at these events, for example Barack Obama, Tim Russert before he died, Ben Bradlee and so on. 

Here's a confession. After Washington, I lived in New York briefly. One day I was walking through my neighborhood in the West Village and I spied Woodward's partner in crime, Carl Bernstein. I followed him down West 4th Street. I really don't know where I was going with this but I had become such a news hound at the Post that I couldn't help myself. Plus he was married to Nora Ephron whom I adored. This went on for a few blocks and then I realized I'd never get the courage to say something so I stopped. 

That's okay. Tonight I get to hear what Bob has to say in person. Should be entertaining. (It was!)

NB. I know I should've chosen some dignified picture to accompany this post about DC swanky journos but I chose instead this image of the Tune Inn, a bar about 3 blocks from my old place. Lou Lou and I spent so much time here the bartender would take messages for us and store our stuff, like ice skates and backpacks. His name was Chris. I remember him too.

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