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La Casa Blanca

I have recently started using Four Square (it is a application you put on your phone and you can update your location so people can know where you are). There are some downsides of this (example: do I always want people knowing where I am? No, and you choose when to update your Four Square status–it doesn’t happen automatically) and some very fabulous upsides. One of my favorite upsides is that when you go somewhere really, really extra cool and special, you can publicize your whereabouts to the world and therefore impress your friends and admirers (my #1 goal in life).

And my Four Square status update hobby came in especially handy last week when…. I went to the White House.

You may already know about my little adventure to the White House because I splashed information about my trip on every social networking site and status update opportunity I had. When you go to the White House, it is okay to brag about it a little, right? I even carried (okay, still carry) the invitation around with me in my bag so I could show the invite off to anyone I encountered who would care.

So, now that I am no longer at the White House and no longer need to pretend to stay calm, I can completely geek out (thank you for introducing me to this term, Elissa F.) in the comfort of my own wild and crazy home on the web. My White House experience was surreal, memorable, and really moving. I’ve outlined the highlights (although really, the whole thing was a highlight) here:

1. Mystery invite. I had no idea how I had gotten on the list for the International Women’s Day reception in the East Wing. I interrogated my friends, colleagues, and posted several Twitter status updates asking if anyone knew what the story was. What a pleasant surprise when I encountered Shannon L. in line waiting to enter the White House and learned that she had added me to the invite list. I cannot thank you enough, Shannon, and hope that one day I can put you on an invite list for something half as cool as our White House shindig.

2. New friends. As I approached the specific gate where we were instructed to check-in, I befriended someone who looked as if we were going to the International Women’s Day event too. The conversation went like this:

Me: Hi, I’m Emily. Looks like we’re going to the same place.
Lieutenant Governor Roberts: Hi! I’m the Lieutenant Governor of Rhode Island, Elizabeth Roberts. Nice to meet you.

…insert back and forth regarding excitement about the fact that we were both invited to the White House and questions regarding bringing cameras inside…

Me: Have you ever been to Block Island? I was there over the summer for my friend Katie’s bachelorette party and had the BEST lobster roll at Harry’s Cafe! And I write a blog about adventures and delicious things I eat and wrote all about my discovery. I’ll send you the link! I also love Olga’s Cup and Saucer right next to the Planned Parenthood in downtown Providence.
Lieutenant Governor Roberts: Oh yes, it is a small state and we get to visit all parts, including Olga’s and Block Island! I’m glad you enjoyed yourself and supported Rhode Island. It is really a great state.

Yes, that conversation really happened. And yes, it was amazing. It was so exciting to stand in line with the Lieutenant Governor Roberts on one side and the president of Wellesley college on the other (they were both lovely and we had a fun time waiting in line and chatting).

2. I had visited the White House on two past occasions… but never during a Democratic administration. Yes, that’s right. I’ve been a resident of the DC metro area for almost 27 years and had made visits to both the Reagan and Bush White Houses. Somehow, I had missed all the Clinton years. And my visit during a White House starring a president I had actually campaigned for was so sweet…

(P.S. I tried to find photos of the Goodstein fam outing to the Reagan White House, because we both know they would have been really amazing. But according to Peter G., there were none taken. If only I had known how to operate a camera at the age of 4, there would have been photos.)

3. The food. Allow me to tell you about the really fabulous food at the White House. I was skeptical because it was made in such large quantities and based on experience, banquet food is never that delicious. But, like most things in the White House, it did not disappoint. I felt like a crazy person photographing ever last bacon stuffed new potato, but knew I would need to turn those photos into the glorious food photo collage below, and am glad I did.

The desserts were also very memorable. I have been seeing these really divine macarons all over the place (I loved Jodi’s post over at Tasty Touring about ‘em) and the White House is part of the trend, too. I sampled the green (possibly pistachio) and pink (most likely raspberry or strawberry) while hanging out in the East Wing.

Food blogging meets the executive branch of the government meets the coolest president in years = dream come true.

4. Then there were the touristy photos. There was a point during the reception when Shannon L., Megan E., Chai S., and I got worried that the event was going to end and we weren’t going to get a chance to take photos around the White House like the huge tourists we are. So, we made the hard decision to leave the open bar and plentiful dessert trays and make our way all over the East Wing, stopping to pose ever three feet. We decided that invitations the White House are not an everyday occurrence, and we should do our best to document everything. Good thing I live my life with this motto no matter where I am… and that I brought both lenses and my external flash with me.

5. Superstar intern. So in one of my favorite types of small world moments, it happens that my sophomore year college roommate (Meredith L.) has a friend from the years she spent living in Israel who is now an intern at the White House (Sara K.). Sara also befriended one of Julie F.’s friends (Talya L.) while in Israel, just to complete the “what are the chances that everyone knows everyone else” situation.

Long story short, Talya and Meredith connected Sara with Julie F. and I and we met for dinner a few months ago. And Sara is now an intern in the White House for the department that organized the Women’s Day event. It was SO exciting to see Sara at the end of the White House hallway on my way out (obviously, this fits very well with my life goal mentioned above.) See the chart above to explain the series of events. Way to go on a fabulous event, Sara!

Okay, so the best part of the whole experience? I just got a call from the White House inviting me BACK for a meeting next week! Guess they weren’t put off by the number of macarons I ate…

P.S. Thanks to Shannon for this FABULOUS photo. And to Megan for using her Wellesley alum street cred and attracting Madeline Albright’s attention for long enough for us to get this photo:

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  • Grace

    Amazing! What an exciting event to attend. The pictures are great. I think I would carry my invitation around too!

  • Yasha

    This is awesome! Thanks for sharing, Emily.

  • assessing the wRecKaGe

    This blog post totally made my morning — what a fabulous experience! And the picture with Madeline Albright at the end is ah-mazing.

  • chai

    woo hoo!!

  • Katie

    That is awesome em- and I love that you mentioned the bachelorette party to the Lt governor of RI… also don't you LOVE how macarons are popping up everywhere?!?!?!? I read this whole article and there is a lot of controversy surrounding these tasty bites:

  • Dmbosstone

    This is amazing! So jealous!

  • Daily Sip Studios

    LOVE IT!

  • Suburban Sweetheart

    I have never been as jealous of anything as I am of this post!