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My Day at the White House This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

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      It was a morning of stylish ladies. I woke up with the distinct desire to look more professional than pretty, knowing that sophistication would be far more appreciated than demure femininity. Because unlike yesterday or the day before or any other day in my life, today I had to take my fashion cues from the First Lady.

Thanks to Teen Ink founders John and Stephanie Meyer, Kelly Farrell and I, Christine Stoddard of Arlington, Virginia, had the opportunity to conduct an exclusive interview with First Lady Laura Bush and receive a tour of the White House. It was a young literati's dream.

So, as I got dressed that morning, I could not believe I would be speaking to the queen of American education and literacy initiatives. Now, here I was in one of Washington's nicest hotels, slipping on a raspberry blazer, a black skirt, a white knit shirt, strappy heels, and a scarf and ring to complete my outfit. Subtle makeup was all I needed to look polished for my time with Mrs. Bush. Kelly looked equally classy in a black sweater, black pants, a black and white print blouse, and a big Virginian smile.

The Meyers, Kelly, and I had a quick breakfast and then walked over to the White House at 7:15 a.m., with a few photo opps along the way. At 7:30 John approached security so we could enter the grounds, and each of us received press passes. The security guard directed us to the Press Room, where John took photos of Kelly and me in front of the official podium. Then the assistant of one to Laura Bush's press secretaries came to escort us to the reception room, although we hardly took the glamorous entrance. We walked in through a back door on the basement level for a breathtaking view of concrete and linoleum. But the reception room's finery in the East Wing compensated for the less-than-picturesque basement.

The reception room teemed with understated elegance and old money flair. The muted off-white, red, and blue shades of carpet patriotically complemented the wooden walls and floor. A giant eucalyptus-type plant occupied the center of the room like a glossy-leafed sun. Blue armchairs, a beautiful mirror, and paintings of Julia Gardiner Tyler, Elizabeth Wallace Truman, and Edith Bolling Galt Wilson were its faithful planets. The guest book featured visitors from Switzerland to Nashville. Our Virginian homes seemed mundane compared to this

mini universe of whispered grandeur.

After about a half hour's wait, the same assistant ushered us to the room in which we would interview Mrs. Bush. Kelly and I met a few young women in sleek skirts and pressed pants who were also various assistants. The suspense was almost as royal as the furnishings.

And then she entered. Laura Bush was charming from the moment she shook our hands to the moment she ended our chit-chat at the close of the interview. Her soft lavender blouse reflected her sweet Southern personality, but the crispness of her slacks made it obvious that she took our time together seriously. Mrs. Bush listened attentively as John described Teen Ink's mission and accomplishments. She seemed sincerely interested in its goals and praised Kelly and me for being involved with the magazine, especially since it is so unlike teen magazines that plague supermarket checkout lines.

The First Lady thoroughly answered our questions, occasionally going off on tangents that only a person passionate about a topic would do. Mrs. Bush maintained eye contact and smiled, which made us nervous teenagers feel more at ease. In fact, our jitters soon disappeared as we realized that this was more of a conversation than a formal interview. Kelly later admitted that she could have comfortably baked cookies with the First Lady. Mrs. Bush struck us as an auntie.

After the interview had officially ended, Mrs. Bush's warm demeanor continued. She seemed somewhat disappointed that our chat had ended so quickly when her aides had to prepare the room for the next meeting. Mrs. Bush continued talking to us off the record as the official White House photographer took pictures of Kelly, Mrs. Bush, and me posed on the only sofa in the room. Then we shuffled out of the room, walking by a collection of interesting large photographs in the hall.

“Nice photos,” John commented.

“Aren't they?” Mrs. Bush replied and then paused. “You know,” she continued, stopping before one of what appeared to be an oversized sea gull, “George and I found these poor baby albatross all over a Hawaiian island that he later declared parkland.” And just like that, totally impromptu, the First Lady began explaining about these birds. Mrs. Bush truly is a woman who loves books, children, and ... albatross.

This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.




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hunter C. said...
Jun. 15, 2009 at 12:09 pm
thats nice cause i like presidents :)
 
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