The Week On Metro Connection: Moonlighting (Transcript) | WAMU 88.5 - American University Radio

Transcripts

The Week On Metro Connection: Moonlighting

MS. REBECCA SHEIR

Welcome to "Metro Connection." I'm Rebecca Sheir. And as we were working on this week's show, we realized something kind of interesting. You know, all the people we interviewed had one thing in common.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE #1

I slept zero hours, but, you know, it was totally worth it.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE #2

The big thing you're going to have to give up is sleep.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE #3

Sleep really, unfortunately, has been a casualty. And I hope one day to sleep a few more hours a night.

SHEIR

Now, today's show is not actually about sleep, it's not about slumber, but a bunch of the folks we're about to hear from are rather sleep deprived. That's because they're moonlighters, Washingtonians who are splitting their time between full-time jobs and part-time passions. We'll meet a veteran Capitol Hill staffer who moonlights behind the hostess stand at her new Georgetown restaurant. We'll hang out with some parents who really do just want to rock and roll all night, and we'll chat with people who've actually turned their hobbies and side jobs into their primary pursuits.

SHEIR

But the first sleep-deprived Washingtonian we'll meet works like a dog to keep her dual gigs going. And actually one of those gigs has her working with a dog, too.

MS. MIRAH HOROWITZ

Okay, Grody (sp?) there you go. Thank you.

SHEIR

Well, a whole bunch of dogs really. To date, more than 4,200. That's because Mirah Horowitz volunteers as the executive director of Lucky Dog Animal Rescue, a D.C.-based group that this particular afternoon has driven a van full of rescued canines to the National Geographic Museum in northwest D.C. Dozens of people line the driveway as Horowitz presents them with their new adoptive or faster pets.

HOROWITZ

All right. Oh, good boy.

SHEIR

Since Horowitz started Lucky Dog in May 2009, the all-volunteer non-profit has saved dogs from shelters in Virginia and the Carolinas. The two dozen or so animals they're having today come from a shelter inside South Carolina's Pickens County Prison.

HOROWITZ

These dogs had been in the shelter where there is a 100 percent euthanasia rate. Every single one of the dogs that came off the van today would have been killed if it wasn't for us. And some of them are a little tentative to come out of the crate, they don't really know, do I really want to come out of the crate right now? And then they do, and it's like, wow, this whole new life.

SHEIR

And making that whole new life possible takes a ton of energy and effort. After all, Lucky Dog isn't just constantly seeking adoptive and foster homes, it's seeking the right ones. So Mirah Horowitz's moonlighting gig involves quite a bit of matchmaking, I guess you could say, but then...

HOROWITZ

Can you give us a hint as to who you're looking for right now?

SHEIR

Her day job does, too.

HOROWITZ

Sure. I'm doing a couple of searches. You can see my search board over there of all the stuff I'm working on.

SHEIR

As an executive search consultant for Russell Reynolds Associates, Horowitz matches executive candidates with high-level positions at non-profits. So right now, she's seeking everything from...

HOROWITZ

A vice president of research for Michigan State University to the Edward M. Kennedy Institute for the Senate President.

SHEIR

Speaking of Senator Kennedy, in a way, Horowitz says he greatly influenced her career path because, you see, she hasn't always done executive recruiting. After law school, she clerked for several justices, including Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer, and eventually became legal counsel for Senator Robert Menendez, and Senator John Kerry. And that's where Ted Kennedy comes in. Because when Horowitz was growing up...

HOROWITZ

My father had worked for Senator Kennedy. He was his chief of staff.

SHEIR

And every time a school vacation came along...

HOROWITZ

I would beg my dad to please take me to work with him so I could answer the phones, and ride the subway from the Russell Building to the Capitol and eat lunch at The Monocle. And that was, like, the best day in the world for me. So I grew up always thinking one day I want to be just like my dad and work in the Senate. So a little bit of a childhood dream come true.

SHEIR

After achieving that dream, Horowitz worked for the Obama Administration, before joining the U.S. Department of Justice.

HOROWITZ

But after some time, I started thinking, you know, I've done this government thing for a while. I've actually, you know, I've been in all three branches. I've been in the executive branch, I've been in the legislative branch, I've clerked on the Court.

SHEIR

So when she heard about the position at Russell Reynolds, she jumped at the chance.

HOROWITZ

I realized that the interaction with people, and the networking and the consultant aspect of what we do; it's like a puzzle. What do they want? What do they need? And what can they get? And trying to make those three pieces fit together is fascinating to me.

SHEIR

And that same puzzle comes in to play at Lucky Dog Animal Rescue.

HOROWITZ

We have actually an official matchmaking team. So that if people say, you know, I think I'm ready for a dog, but I don't really know what dog, and I don't really want to just pick off a picture on the Internet or whatever, we'll take those applications and we'll work with them and talk to them and spend a lot of time with them and figure out what the right dog for their family is.

SHEIR

Then there are the logistics of foster care for dogs that aren't immediately adopted. There are the occasional medical issues and emergencies. So all in all, running Lucky Dog and working at Russell Reynolds definitely keeps Mirah Horowitz on her toes. So you've got your Russell Reynolds time, the Lucky Dog time, when is your you time?

HOROWITZ

Ha, I knew that question was coming. Between 1:00 am and 5:00, no. (laughs) You know, that's a little -- there isn't a whole lot of Mirah time at this point.

SHEIR

But that's about to change. Lucky Dog has finally raised enough money to hire its first paid employee.

HOROWITZ

A chief operating officer.

SHEIR

And that could take a lot off of Horowitz's plate as Lucky Dog's executive director.

HOROWITZ

I would really like to see it become an organization that's a little bit separate from me. I think anyone who founds something wants it to live beyond them, and it's frankly something that I've learned at Russell Reynolds as I've done searches for organizations that their founder is moving on. And it's a difficult thing and a challenging thing, but it's an important thing. It's important for the volunteers. It's important for the organization. It's, in this case, important for the dogs.

SHEIR

For now, though, Horowitz says she's happy leading her double life, whether she is matching people and institutions, or people and dogs, like she did this afternoon outside National Geographic.

SHEIR

So how did it go today?

HOROWITZ

Oh, it went really well. All the dogs came off looking very healthy and the adopters seem happy and the foster seem happy. So, it seemed to go really well.

SHEIR

So it's worth all the long hours.

HOROWITZ

It is worth the long hours. Absolutely. I wouldn't change it for the world. I really wouldn't. Even if it meant I could get, you know, a full eight hours of sleep every night, I wouldn't change it.

SHEIR

Because it's one thing to be dog tired, it's something else to make sure that every dog -- 4,200 and counting -- has its day.

SHEIR

For more on Lucky Dog Animal Rescue, visit our website, metroconnection.org.

SHEIR

Much like Mirah Horowitz, this next guy we'll meet knows a lot about long hours spent at work. He also knows a thing or two about artwork. Peter Loge holds is a D.C. resident. His full-time job as a political strategist has him coaching clients on how to advance their causes by tapping into the procedural and policy driven ways of Washington. But on the side, he makes art.

SHEIR

Art, that's about anything but rules and regulations. Jessica Gould talked with Loge about his two passions and how he finds the commonalities between two seemingly different domains.

MR. PETER LOGE

Have you got a minute?

MS. JESSICA GOULD

From his home office in Adams Morgan, Peter Loge holds a phone to his ear while his fingers fly across a keyboard.

LOGE

All right. So, I just want some clarification on tomorrow's meeting. What do we need to come out of...

GOULD

Loge is the principal at Milo Public Affairs where he irons out political strategies for an array of clients ranging from "America's Funniest Home Videos" to the World Wildlife Fund. It's a diverse group, but he says he tells them all the same thing.

LOGE

I think there's a logic to Congress. I think there's a logic to how people think about and operate on policies and on issues. And I help organizations figure out what that logic is.

GOULD

Hear that? It's all about logic. Except when it comes to his art.

LOGE

You know, I spend my day job as a communications and political consultant finding order in politics and saying there's a logic to this. It seems like it doesn't make any sense at all, but it makes a lot of sense. In my art, I say it seems as if everything makes sense, and there's an underlying order to it. But it doesn't.

GOULD

For years, Loge has spent his days preaching a gospel of predictability. Then, in the evenings, he makes art that demonstrates the randomness of reality. Take his piece "Certain Memory," which he keeps in his basement.

LOGE

It's the bottom half of a mannequin, so a mannequin's legs and it's mounted on a bit of a platform. And on top of the mannequin legs is a wooden box I made.

GOULD

And inside the box, there's a string of photographs, a rose, a toy watch, and a broken wineglass.

LOGE

We're very sure of what we know. But what we know is really not true. And so what this does is put that into question. It says, we don't remember things, we remember images of things. If you have a picture from your wedding, you look at your wedding album and say, oh, I remember that. What you end up remembering is the photograph. And so we actually only have certain memories.

GOULD

Loge says his artwork is inspired by Marcel Duchamp and the Dada movement, and his house is full of the stuff he's made. There are canvas cubes with tiny plastic people from model train sets and little squares full of found objects mounted on the walls. Loge says he gets most of his materials just by walking around his neighborhood.

LOGE

Photographs, slides, jewelry. If I'm in a park or from a new city or if I'm, you know, on a beach, I try to notice stuff. You wind up seeing a lot of stuff that you otherwise, you know, might not notice.

GOULD

One of his favorite spots is the soccer field at Marie Reed Learning Center, just a few blocks from his house.

LOGE

This is a label from a Minnie Mouse plush toy. That's just (unintelligible).

GOULD

As we walk, he scans the field, occasionally stooping over to pluck a piece of garbage from the grass.

LOGE

A lot of bottle caps, but there are only so many of those you can have before you become that weird guy with lots of bottle caps.

GOULD

And then he sees it.

LOGE

Oh, here we go. For example, an electrical bus.

GOULD

He clutches a clump of yellow electrical wires and begins to consider the possibilities. Maybe he'll make a piece about how technology shapes our views, or the limits of our connections to each other.

LOGE

We really want the world to make sense. And I think some people have a willingness or an urge or desire to say that sense you thought was there isn't actually there.

GOULD

And that makes me wonder, is there any concern that some of your clients will see your art or hear this interview and think, everything he's been telling us is lie. There's no logic at all.

LOGE

I don't think so. Both the politics and the art are about how we construct and operate in our world.

GOULD

After all, as they say, politics is the art of the possible. I'm Jessica Gould.

SHEIR

To see a slideshow of art made by Peter Loge, head to our website, metroconnection.org.

SHEIR

After the break, moonlighters in music. We'll meet some rather surprising rock stars.

MS. ELAINE EAGLE

We want to sing things that are sort of not calm and everyday happy and all about education and kids because that's what our lives are and this is sort of an escape from that.

SHEIR

It's just ahead on "Metro Connection" here on WAMU 88.5.

SHEIR

I'm Rebecca Sheir, and welcome back to "Metro Connection." Today's show is all about moonlighting, you know, splitting your time between a day job and an after-hours hobby or gig. We've already met two moonlighters, one who combines executive recruiting and rescuing dogs and another who does political consulting and art. In this next story, we're going to talk parenting and rock and roll.

SHEIR

Those two things together may kind of sound like an oxymoron. But back in 2006, a bunch of D.C. parents got together to form bands for an event known as Schoola Paloozza. And as Kavitha Cardoza found out, they've been rocking out together ever since.

MS. KAVITHA CARDOZA

Pete Willsey is going through his closet. There are 20 costumes in here. The druid costume won't do, the dictator costume isn't quite right, neither is the evil Wiggles costume. Willsey finally finds what he's looking for.

MR. PETE WILLSEY

This is one of my favorites, it's a jumpsuit that we had custom-made, Princess on the top and the D.C. city flag underneath that. And it says, Property of Chevy Chase D.C. Correctional Facility.

CARDOZA

Three years ago, Willsey formed the band Princess, named after his daughters' obsession with all things girly. The band's logo is bold pink.

WILLSEY

Then we decided it will always be in all caps to give it a little masculinity. And there you have it, perfect.

CARDOZA

Willsey's daughter Lisa and son John are wearing Princess t-shirts.

MS. LISA WILLSEY

It's cool to see him, like, of all the songs that are popular. But sometimes he can be a tiny bit embarrassing, like the costume.

MR. JOHN WILLSEY

He wears funny costumes, like diapers.

CARDOZA

They're referring to their dad's baby New Year costume. Princess is a band of mostly fathers, all lawyers, whose children go to Lafayette Elementary School in northwest D.C. They do punk rock covers of pop songs.

WILLSEY

I am the "lead singer," end quotes.

CARDOZA

Why end quote?

WILLSEY

If you ever saw us play, you know, it'd be readily apparent.

CARDOZA

Willsey and his bandmates do perform in public. Princess has done 35 gigs, including at local bars, block parties and school fundraisers at Lafayette. And bassist Hunter Bennett says they're open to more.

MR. HUNTER BENNETT

If any school, frankly, asked us to do anything, we would happily play for them for free or maybe even pay them to do it.

CARDOZA

Willsey's garage has makeshift sound proofing.

WILLSEY

This is a special occasion so we actually tune.

CARDOZA

This is where they practice their teenybopper hits -- Miley Cyrus's "See You Again," Taylor Swift's "You Belong To Me," and Beyonce's "If I Were A Boy."

WILLSEY

If you drink, now's a good time to have a beer before we start playing.

CARDOZA

Consider yourself warned. In Princess's hands, the ballad starts out tender...

CARDOZA

And quickly becomes this.

CARDOZA

Sweating, screaming, riving. And that, says drummer Vinny Badolato, is exactly what Princess is all about.

MR. VINNY BADOLATO

You know, as long as it's fast and kind of loud, that's sort of a Princess signature sound.

WILLSEY

Speed and volume make up for a lot of mistakes and outfits.

BADOLATO

Outfits, theatrics, jokes. Yeah, that's our musical floor plan.

WILLSEY

We are masters of diversion. That's what Princess really is.

SHEIR

A few miles away, another parent-band Cheaper Than Therapy, is starting practice. Members' children go to Janney Elementary, Deal Middle and Wilson High Schools. Karen Harris is the lead singer.

MS. KAREN HARRIS

The name of the band is Cheaper Than Therapy. We are actually quite cheaper than therapy.

SHEIR

Why therapy?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE #1

You don't have kids, do you?

CARDOZA

Harris and drummer Pippa Trench met running Janney's Parent Teacher Association.

MS. PIPPA TRENCH

It's D.C. Public School, so there's always a financial crisis of some sort.

CARDOZA

That means lots of meetings to organize fundraising events. But also, says Doug Harris...

MR. DOUG HARRIS

That's just the PTA stuff there. And on top of that we have soccer and baseball coaches. We run our kids to music lessons, theatre, musical, baseball, swimming, dance after school, language lessons and then homework as well.

CARDOZA

And so this band was formed purely as a stress-reducer say members Trench, Harris and guitarist David Boris.

HARRIS

It gives you a real relief. It's like this busy, busy life going on. Everybody's really kind of wrapped up in what they're doing and this just takes you away from all that.

EAGLE

We want to sing things that are sort of not all about kids, because that's what our lives are. And this is sort of an escape from that.

MR. DAVID BORIS

And I think what's cool about the band is that it isn't done to play kiddie music for the kids, it's totally our thing.

CARDOZA

Being part of a band also gives these parents some street cred with their children says Boris, Harris and backup vocalist Elaine Eagle.

HARRIS

My son thinks it's the greatest thing.

CARDOZA

For some reason, I thought that the kids would be kind of embarrassed.

BORIS

I would say they're not old enough yet to be embarrassed.

HARRIS

And we can't wait until it does embarrass them.

BORIS

There have one or two times when the kids have asked us to turn it down, because it's been too loud.

CARDOZA

In this crowded basement, the members of Cheaper Than Therapy are letting go of stress, meeting friends and banging on the drums.

CARDOZA

I'm Kavitha Cardoza.

SHEIR

DCPS parents are trying to organize another Schoolapalooza for this fall. For more information and to see photos and videos of the bands Princess and Cheaper Than Therapy, visit our website, metroconnection.org.

SHEIR

Here's the thing about moonlighting as a musician. It might not be reserved just for us humans. At the Smithsonian National Zoo, a certain large animal recently revealed her secret love of music. Sabri Ben-Achour introduces us to this musical mammal. And in doing so, he tries to answer the seemingly simple question, just where did we get music from anyway?

MR. SABRI BEN-ACHOUR

So, here's some music.

MR. SABRI BEN-ACHOUR

And this is also music. It's from a pygmy celebration in eastern Congo.

MR. SABRI BEN-ACHOUR

But what about this?

MR. SABRI BEN-ACHOUR

That last ditty is by Shanthi. She's kind of new. You might not have heard of her because...

MS. DEBBIE FLINKMAN

Shanthi is our 36-year-old Asian elephant.

BEN-ACHOUR

That's National Zoo elephant keeper Debbie Flinkman. Shanthi plays/plays with the harmonica.

FLINKMAN

She's just so interested in finding ways to make interesting noises. If a lock makes noise, she'll flip the lock repetitively. She will blow across the top of toys that we have drilled holes in.

BEN-ACHOUR

Flinkman ended up fastening a harmonica to a wall in Shanthi's enclosure, and Shanthi would play it.

FLINKMAN

It's not usually a long ditty, but it always ends in this really sort of fanfare at the end, this big blowout.

BEN-ACHOUR

But is that music? And actually, what is music? Like, why do we even have it?

MR. DAN LEVITIN

Dan Levitin is a professor of psychology and neuroscience at McGill University. He doesn't subscribe to this theory, but he's helping me explain it. He says back in 1997 this scientist Steven Pinker at Harvard got up before a group of musicologists and cognitive scientists at their meeting and was like, you're all wasting your time because music is...

MR. DAN LEVITIN

Cheesecake.

BEN-ACHOUR

Auditory cheesecake.

LEVITIN

Cheesecake is interesting. We have this great fondness for it, but we didn't evolve a taste for cheesecake. It's an evolutionary byproduct or accident. In our hunter gatherer days, it was an adaptive strategy, if you found any, to load up on fats and sweets because they were very hard to find.

BEN-ACHOUR

So because we, for other reasons, like fats and sweets, we like cheesecake too. It doesn't mean that cheesecake serves an evolutionary purpose goes the argument.

LEVITIN

And he said the same thing applies to music that our brains evolved to want to communicate with language, and music just hopped along for the evolutionary ride.

BEN-ACHOUR

So let's take the idea of the beat. The beat. The beat.

BEN-ACHOUR

Human babies can keep a beat. Most music has a beat, but most animals have no rhythm. Like Gibbons -- these are monkeys that do kind of sing to mark their territory.

BEN-ACHOUR

But researchers tried to train these guys to just tap their finger in time to a metronome.

BEN-ACHOUR

Four hours a day they practiced for a year. The gibbons could not do it. And then there's this guy.

BEN-ACHOUR

That's a cockatoo named Snowball and he's dancing, like straight up dancing, keeping time, bobbing his head, kicking his feet. No problem keeping a beat.

MR. GREG BRYANT

Species that do this seem to be species that do vocal mimicry.

BEN-ACHOUR

That's Greg Bryant. He's an assistant professor at UCLA's Department of Communication Studies. Cockatoos don't dance in the wild, as far as we know, so there's no evolutionary reason why they would have evolved to keep a beat, but they can. The birds evolved vocal mimicry and it just so happens that helps with keeping a beat and dancing.

BRYANT

And so that might be the evolutionary origins of our ability too, since we also can also do vocal mimicry.

BEN-ACHOUR

But does that mean our music is an evolutionary accident? Really?

MS. ELLEN DISSANAYAKE

Oh, look at the key.

BEN-ACHOUR

Ellen Dissanayake is the author of "Art and Intimacy" and she's watching a video of a mother and baby.

DISSANAYAKE

All over the world, adults behave with their babies in ways they don't with each other. They make funny facial expressions, they move their heads and bodies in different sorts of ways, and they talk in a higher pitched tone with a lot of repetition, a lot of vocal contours. It's, I think, very musical.

BEN-ACHOUR

That universally sing-songy kind of way mothers and babies interact, she says, could have been the kernel, a million years ago, of what we now know as music. She says it could have started as an emotional bonding system that increased the survival of infants.

BRYANT

Babies come into the world ready to respond to the repetitions and exaggerations and the elaborations of the voice that the mother gives in baby talk.

BEN-ACHOUR

And they kind of move together, too.

BRYANT

At some point in human evolution, humans invented what they call, what we call ritual ceremonies.

BEN-ACHOUR

As human societies became more advanced, they developed rituals and built on that fundamental parent-baby bonding. We went from baby talk to Beethoven.

BEN-ACHOUR

But many music was a different kind of adaptation.

BEN-ACHOUR

And adaptation for getting along. Here's Dan Levitin from McGill University again.

BEN-ACHOUR

We now know that when people play music together, oxytocin is released. This is the bonding hormone that's released when people have an orgasm together. And so, you have to ask yourself, well, that can't be a coincidence. There had to be some evolutionary pressure there. Language doesn't produce it, music does. So the idea is that there's no primate society that I know of that has more than 18 males in the living group, because the rivalries cause the groups to break apart and there's too much fighting.

LEVITIN

But human society has thousands of members have existed for thousands of years. And the argument is that music, among other things, helped to diffuse interpersonal tensions and to smooth over rivalries.

BEN-ACHOUR

Back at the zoo, Shanthi loves to make sounds. Is it music? Elephant keeper Debbie Flinkman says it sounds like more than just playing around to her.

FLINKMAN

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, so I figure, you know, a song is in the ear of the listener. So, I think it's music.

BEN-ACHOUR

Dan Levitin thinks Shanthi is just basically playing around. But...

LEVITIN

I think that music is really -- falls along a continuum. There are things that are music-like, where you put the dividing line, I think, is subjective. After all, we can hardly figure out why we even have music, let alone whether Shanthi does. I'm Sabri Ben-Achour.

SHEIR

You can check out videos of dancing cockatoos and musical elephants and read more about the origins of music on our website, metroconnection.org.

SHEIR

And now, our weekly trip around the region. On today's "Door to Door," we visit Fort Lincoln in Northeast D.C. and Glen Echo, Md.

MR. BOB KING

I'm Robert "Bob" King. I'm ANC commissioner representing Fort Lincoln. I'm the longest serving ANC commissioner in the city. I've been representing Fort Lincoln for nearly 30 years. Fort Lincoln is a self-contained community. Its 360 acres within the city limit. Its boundaries are from Bladensburg to Eastern Avenue and basically over to South Dakota.

MR. BOB KING

Fort Lincoln is home to the largest population of seniors living anywhere in the city. I used to tell folks the story about folks living long in Fort Lincoln. I mean, there's a couple hundred centenarians that live in the city and at one point we had as many as seven to eight centenarians who are over a hundred living right here in Fort Lincoln. And we used to say that the reason we had so many living in Fort Lincoln that maybe the water was different in Fort Lincoln than it was anywhere else.

MR. BOB KING

Fort Lincoln in the beginning afforded many African-Americans first time homeownership. It allowed many families like my family and others to come into Fort Lincoln who would have never dreamed of owning a home. And it will be soon a home to Costco sitting on 42 acres of retail land, comprising of about 438 square feet of space. Construction will start on July the 16th.

MR. BOB KING

You've got the mix of the new folks who are coming in here with a substantially higher income than when we moved here in 1976. So you get that kind of blend.

MS. DEBBIE BEERS

I'm Debbie Beers. I am 62 years old and I reside in Glen Echo, Md. I'm the mayor of Glen Echo. I've been mayor for the past 20 years. Glen Echo is very small. It runs essentially from the entrance to the Clara Barton Parkway over to just before the one-lane bridge that leads to Cabin John and it is right on the banks of the Potomac.

MS. DEBBIE BEERS

The population, since I moved here, has been pretty steady but it's under 300 people. The town was first plotted by the Baltzley brothers, who invented the egg beater and they envisioned Glen Echo as Chautauqua, meeting place, so most of the houses were originally summer houses and then were converted later after the Chautauqua closed as a result of a malaria scare.

MS. DEBBIE BEERS

Now, of course, Glen Echo Park which is the air to Chautauqua campsite is again a cultural and historic landmark. A lot of the residents take classes at the park. My husband and I just finished taking swing dance classes. There is a playground there and of course the carousel's a big attraction for someone like myself who has four grandchildren.

MS. DEBBIE BEERS

The carousel is a remnant of the old amusement park that used to be at Glen Echo through the 1960s when it closed partly as a result of race riots. Because the park was segregated people did protest and eventually they decided to close the park and the National Park Service took it over and now owns it.

MS. DEBBIE BEERS

I love the fact that I know almost everybody in the town, that we, you know, maintain a small community feel. Everybody knows each other and pretty much watches out for each other.

SHEIR

We heard from Bob King in Fort Lincoln and Debbie Beers in Glen Echo. If you think your neighborhood should be part of "Door to Door," send an email to metro@wamu.org or visit us on Facebook. That's facebook.com/metroconnection.org. And to see a map of all the doors we've knocked on so far, visit our website, metroconnecction.org.

SHEIR

Up next, realizing a culinary dream when your day job is all politics.

MS. LAURA SCHILLER

I never thought I'd be opening a restaurant. I mean, maybe it was on my kind of top ten crazy, bucket-list of things to do, but really I thought maybe in retirement not while having a, you know, extremely demanding day job.

SHEIR

That and more coming your way on "Metro Connection," on WAMU 88.5.

SHEIR

Welcome back to "Metro Connection." I'm Rebecca Sheir and this week we're meeting some of Washington's moonlighters. Earlier in the hour, we heard from an executive recruiter/dog rescuer. We rocked out with D.C. parents moonlighting as musicians and in just a bit, we'll hear from folks who've taken their moonlighting gig and transformed it into a full-time day job. But now, we return to a place we visited on the show not too long ago...

SHEIR

All right. Here we are on M Street.

SHEIR

...a certain eatery that opened earlier this year.

SHEIR

Heading west, walking back to Unum.

SHEIR

You may recall on our Global D.C. show how we met Unum's owner and chef, Phillip Blaine, whose internationally inspired dishes represent a long-held dream of opening his very own restaurant. But this time around, we're here to meet Blaine's fellow dreamer and his wife, Unum's other owner, Laura Schiller. And tonight, Schiller is greeting and seating dinnertime customers.

SCHILLER

Hi, welcome.

#1

Melvin for four, but we're only three.

SHEIR

As Unum's hostess.

#1

We lost one on the way.

SCHILLER

On the drive over?

SHEIR

At least that's what the long time foodie, cook and mother of a toddler does by night. But by day...

SHEIR

Can you tell us where we're standing right now?

SHEIR

...her job's a little big different.

SCHILLER

We're standing in front of the Hart Building which is where our office is. You can see my office right over there.

SHEIR

That's the Hart Building, as in the Senate Hart Office Building and Laura Schiller holds a rather distinguished position in this nine-story structure on Constitution Avenue Northeast. She's chief of staff to Democratic Senator Barbara Boxer of California.

SHEIR

How did you get involved with Senator Boxer?

SCHILLER

Well, I grew up in the Bay area in her congressional district. I knew of her and even had a play date with her daughter when I was in second grade. And actually my first politically memory is really of Senator Boxer coming out to the car with campaign literature and legend has it that her husband coached me in soccer at one point along the way as well.

SHEIR

Fast forward to 1992 when Schiller worked on the campaign that propelled Barbara Boxer from the U.S. House of Representatives to the Senate. Schiller moved to D.C. where she helped Boxer with legislative and policy stuff for a while. Then came a stint as First Lady Hilary Clinton's speech writer, another stint as the head of a consulting business and in 2005, Laura Schiller returned to the Boxer camp to become the Senator's chief of staff.

SHEIR

So people who watched the "West Wing," they kind of know what the presidential chief of staff does. Can you talk about what your job entails?

SCHILLER

You know, my job really is help her to best serve, you know, the 38 million Californians and the nation and really at the same time to help our amazing staff grow and serve her in the best possible way that they can.

SHEIR

And speaking of that amazing staff, I had the chance to interview two of Schiller's colleagues, executive assistant, Kelly Boyer, and communications director, Zachary Coile, both of whom, of course, see Schiller in the office every day.

SHEIR

What is she like at her day job?

MR. ZACHARY COILE

Wow, extremely energetic, I mean, just on the go all the time.

SHEIR

And they've also seen her at night as diners at Unum.

SHEIR

What you guys think of your meal?

MS. KELLY BOYER

It was delicious. Extremely filling.

COILE

Yes, I mean, the beet salad was incredible.

SHEIR

What's also incredible, Coile says, is his boss's ability to juggle two such demanding careers.

COILE

Because this is an incredible job that you have to do here in the Senate, it's not a 38-hour a week job. It's a really intense 60, can be 70 hour a week job and then on top of that be raising a great son and pull off opening a restaurant. It's a pretty incredible accomplishment. So we're very happy for her.

SHEIR

But at first, Laura Schiller says, they were actually kind of weirded out.

SCHILLER

I had to sort of convince them that they needed to let me take their coat. They needed to let me, you know, bring them their menus and help serve them. And that was an amusing transition. But once I did it, they were relishing it. They loved having me serve them.

SHEIR

Nothing like having the boss serve you.

COILE

It's kind of nice.

SCHILLER

Hi, how are you? Welcome.

#1

Hi, my friend Christy had a reservation for four at 7:00. I don't know if she's here?

SCHILLER

They have not arrived yet. Would you like to sit down, sit at the bar? Either way is fine.

#1

Okay.

SCHILLER

Great.

SHEIR

Laura Schiller and her staff may kid about the benefits of having a boss serve her employees. But all joking aside, she says it's service that actually connects the dots between her two seemingly disparate gigs.

SCHILLER

Both of them are about trying to make life better for other people, whether it's trying to get them better health care or whether it's about serving them food, which is such a universal bind that brings people together.

SHEIR

And that, she says, is also pretty refreshing. Because after a long day of partisan politicking on Capitol Hill, any sort of "universal bind," especially one that's created over a meal with friends or family, can be a very welcome thing, indeed.

SHEIR

To read more about Laura Schiller and take a gander at Unum's menu, visit our website, metroconnection.org.

SHEIR

So far in the show we've talking about adults who moonlight, grown-ups. But our next story is about a local teen. Andrew Grant is a Silver Spring High School by day but over the past year, by night, on weekends and during summer break, he's been something else, a novelist. Heather Taylor brings us his story.

MS. HEATHER TAYLOR

Tracy Grant didn't have big plans for how her 15-year-old son Andrew would spend his summer break last year. And that wasn't by accident.

MS. TRACY GRANT

I'm a big advocate that summer should be a time for kids to get bored, so that they learn to explore other things.

TAYLOR

But pretty soon the novelty of having free time wore off.

GRANT

I think he was a little bored.

TAYLOR

And Andrew came to his mother with a surprising idea.

GRANT

He said, you know, Mom, you know how I still make up those stories?

TAYLOR

At age 15, Andrew was already an old hand at storytelling.

MR. ANDREW GRANT

I have been making up stories, like, in my head, since I was about four. Just like being my room, throwing a little red ball around just making them up.

GRANT

He would go up into his bedroom, lay on his back, throw up a red rubber ball and make up stories in his head for hours on end. And my husband and I used to joke that sending Andrew to his room was never a viable punishment option because he thrived. He loved being sent to his room.

TAYLOR

This time Andrew thought he had a really great idea.

GRANT

So I decided to write it down.

TAYLOR

But something unexpected happened. But two unexpected things happened. Long after summer break was over and Andrew continued writing. And he ended up with a 327-page novel called "The Black Hammer." Reading the book, it's clear that Andrew's a big fan of epic tales.

GRANT

"Iliad" and "The Odyssey," "Eragon" by Christopher Paolini and, like, "Lord of the Rings" and "Harry Potter."

TAYLOR

The novel takes place in the mythical country of Alderia. In it, the hero joins forces with resistance fighters to overthrow a tyrannical government.

GRANT

I read and I confess, I was stunned. I was stunned at how good it was. But I was also having a hard time assessing how much of that was maternal pride and how much of that was bonafide talent.

TAYLOR

Realizing she couldn't be totally objective, Tracy Grant, who works as the KidsPost editor for The Washington Post decided to ask one of her colleagues to judge.

GRANT

There was this one section...

GRANT

"Blake sat wordlessly on the back of the bike as he zips along the narrow dirt path that ran through the forest. He looked around, gazing through the canopy of trees at the bright green tiny amount of sunshine fluttering down through the canopy sparkling on the ground."

GRANT

Just thought it was among the nicest things that I have ever read. And so I actually asked book review editor at The Post, just read these two and a half pages. Tell me what you think. And his response was that he had never read anything like that from someone who was -- Andrew was 15 at the time.

TAYLOR

The book project has brought some unexpected perks for mother and son.

GRANT

The teenage years can be tricky and you can either grow very close or you can sort of become estranged and have lots of difficulties.

TAYLOR

They've managed to avoid the latter.

GRANT

It has given us this touch point for us to discuss so many things. My husband, the boys' dad, died five years ago. It's very difficult. In the book, the main character loses his parents. It's been a launching point for having safe conversations about loss, about faith.

TAYLOR

And a great grandparenting moment, too.

GRANT

As he was writing, it also became a wonderful thing for him to talk to his grandparents about.

TAYLOR

And in November, Andrew decided he wanted his grandparents to be able to have a copy of his work.

GRANT

Well, I rushed it a bit at the end because I wanted to give it to my grandparents as a Christmas present.

TAYLOR

So Tracy Grant called Politics and Prose, the independent bookstore on Connecticut Avenue. It's got a self-publishing machine called Opus that can make a book from scratch, usually in about five minutes.

GRANT

Fast-forward to Christmas when he wrapped this book and gave it to his grandparents, you know, they were speechless. And it was just a wonderful moment.

TAYLOR

Now Andrew and his mom are hoping to bring his stories to a broader audience.

GRANT

The manuscript is out to literary agents and publishers and we certainly hope that something wonderful will happen. But something wonderful has already happened.

TAYLOR

So if your teen ever expresses an interest in writing his or her first novel, you might want to offer Andrew Grant's advice.

GRANT

Go for it.

TAYLOR

I'm Heather Taylor.

SHEIR

If you'd like to read a sample of Andrew Grant's novel, "The Black Hammer," you can find an excerpt on our website. That's metroconnection.org.

SHEIR

Most of the people we've met today still have their fulltime jobs and have to carve out time for their side gigs whenever they can. But once in a while, a part-time pursuit can become a full-blown career. And that was the case for the folks we're about to meet. Emily Friedman introduces us to a trio of individuals working in three very different industries, but all experiencing the success of taking a side project fulltime.

MS. EMILY FRIEDMAN

Nole Geary is sipping iced coffee and finishing a post on her blog. For nearly four years, she's covered the ins and outs of an industry that doesn't get much play here in the nation's capital. She blogs about stationary.

MS. NOLE GEARY

I inhabit a very happy little corner of the Internet universe.

FRIEDMAN

The blog is called "Oh, So Beautiful Paper" and covers everything from wedding invitations to birth announcements, to posters and greeting cards.

GEARY

I have a whole room full of paper so any time my friends come over, I'm like, here, take paper home with you.

FRIEDMAN

But she didn't always live in this world of letter press and creative fonts. Not too long ago she was working at the State Department.

GEARY

Coordinating U.S. foreign policy between Djibouti and Somalia.

FRIEDMAN

At the same time, she was meeting, dating and marrying the man of her dreams. She poured every ounce of free time into planning her wedding and found even after their wedding was over, she was still really into weddings, especially the invitations. So she wrote about it on a blog.

GEARY

When I started, the blog really took off, you know. I didn't intend for it to be a career and sort of turned into one. And when I decided to try to do it fulltime, my goal was really to try to replace the salary that I had been getting as a fulltime civil servant. And so when I hit that goal, I was amazed that it actually happened.

FRIEDMAN

The money flows in primarily from side bar advertisers who approach her about posting ads on her site. Managing those relationships along with backend programming and, of course, curating the dozens of submissions as they come in, keeps her busy and happy.

GEARY

I honestly feel like I have the best job in the whole entire world because, you know, it's sort of a giant paper love fest every single day.

FRIEDMAN

Nole admits she does think about her former life at the State Department and the people who work there. People like Elon Weinstein who went from coordinating U.S. policy in Africa to welding steel in Capitol Heights, Md.

MR. ELON WEINSTEIN

I design and fabricate cool fun stuff.

FRIEDMAN

We're in the offices of Weinstein business, The Custom District.

WEINSTEIN

I'm doing kitchen cabinet doors for a small development. It's about 150 doors. I just built a nine foot high shoe rack for a wealthy client.

FRIEDMAN

The room is full of machinery, metal cutters, jig tables.

WEINSTEIN

Ducts vents, lots of electrical and air drops, piles of steel and wood.

FRIEDMAN

Today he's working on a stainless steel dining room table, which would take about three days of solid work before it's ready to hand over to his client. Project by project, he's been building his business for about seven years.

WEINSTEIN

For an extended period of time I really did the furniture work and international development consulting simultaneously. And it was a pretty even balance. I had a workday and then I ran home and started another work day.

FRIEDMAN

Weinstein says he's grateful to be starting his own company as a second career. Because he spent time in the federal government, he says, he knows how to get things done in spite of obstacles. Only this time, if he doesn't get it done, it's his reputation on the line.

WEINSTEIN

At times it's been enormously stressful and yet through all of it, I'm really, really content.

FRIEDMAN

Just 30 miles away in Columbia, Md., there's another former moonlighter, who's finally sleeping at night. Her name is Funlayo Alabi and she's showing me how to label a bottle, fill it with shampoo and pack it for shipment. From here the shampoo will go to a distributor and then to a whole food store, somewhere along the East coast. Three years ago Alabi was working for a health insurance company. Now, she runs Shea Radiance has four employees working in her production factory.

MS. FUNLAYO ALABI

So this is about 14 tons of Shea butter shipped directly in from our women's cooperative in Nigeria.

FRIEDMAN

Shea butter is made by women throughout West Africa. The women collect nuts from the Shea tree and grind them into a paste from which they extract oil. When the oil cools, its Shea butter.

ALABI

It's like a waxy balm.

FRIEDMAN

And it works wonders on dry skin, she says. Both of her sons have health conditions that make their skin really dry so Alabi asked her mother to bring some Shea butter from Nigeria. It worked and though Funlayo and her husband immediately started working on the business, she didn't quit her job for another three and a half years.

ALABI

I was at a point in my life that I knew that I had to follow my heart and my passion. You know, I felt like I would just jump out of my skin if I didn't do what I felt was in my heart to do.

FRIEDMAN

For now, Alabi works on the company fulltime and her husband joins her at night. During the day, he works in a hospital in York, Pa. and commutes an hour and a half each way. Alabi says she hopes it won't be long before her husband can join her fulltime and not have to worry about going back to work.

ALABI

For most people that pursue their hobbies and become entrepreneurs, the idea of going back to work is almost like the kiss of death. But we see ourselves being there for the long haul.

FRIEDMAN

By the end of the year, Shea Radiance will be nationally distributed at Whole Foods and starting this August, you can find their shampoos, whipped Shea butters, and body scrubs on the shelves of 300 Target stores all around the country. It's been a long time coming, Alabi says, but with a full time effort, you can get a full time reward. I'm Emily Friedman.

SHEIR

We have links to at metroconnection.org for Shea Radiance, The Custom District and Oh, So Beautiful Paper. And we want to know if you were to leave your fulltime gig to pursue a side passion, what would it be? You can reach us at metro@wamu.org or find us on Twitter. Our handle, wamumetro.

SHEIR

And that's "Metro's Connection" for this week. We heard from WAMU's Kavitha Cardoza, Emily Friedman, Sabri Ben-Achour and Jessica Gould along with reporter, Heather Taylor. And speaking of Jessica Gould, we say a very sad goodbye this week to our trusty reporter, who's about to hit the road for grad school. We're wishing you the best of luck, Jessica. You and your superb storytelling will be missed. Our acting news director is Meymo Lyons. Our managing producer is Tara Boyle. Lauren Landau is our editorial assistant. Our interns are Jessica Officer and Raphie Alabenin (sp?). Jonna McKone and Lauren Landau produce "Door to Door." Thanks, as always, to the WAMU engineering and digital media teams for their help with production and the "Metro Connection" website.

SHEIR

Our theme song, ''Every Little Bit Hurts" and our "Door to Door" theme, "No, Girl" are from the album "Title Tracks" by John Davis and used with permission of the Ernest Jennings Record Company. You can see all the music we use on our website, that's metroconnection.org. Just click on a story and you'll find information about its accompanying song.

SHEIR

Also on metroconnection.org you can find our Twitter and Facebook links, you can read free transcripts of stories and if you missed part of today's show you can hear the whole thing by clicking the this week on "Metro Connection" link. To listen to our most recent episodes, click the podcast link or find us on iTunes. We hope you can join us next week when we'll gear up for the 4th of July with a show about independence. We'll hear about how independent bike shops are faring with the popularity of Capitol Bike Share. We'll check out a theater performance intended for one audience member at a time and we'll meet students at the Maryland School for the Blind as they prepare to strike out on their own in the school's new independent living house.

#1

We're just like you, we can be independent. We can live on our own and most people aren't. They see you and, like, shy away from you and they don't have to.

SHEIR

I'm Rebecca Sheir and thanks for listening to "Metro Connection," a production of WAMU 88.5 news.
Transcripts of WAMU programs are available for personal use. Transcripts are provided "As Is" without warranties of any kind, either express or implied. WAMU does not warrant that the transcript is error-free. For all WAMU programs, the broadcast audio should be considered the authoritative version. Transcripts are owned by WAMU 88.5 FM American University Radio and are protected by laws in both the United States and international law. You may not sell or modify transcripts or reproduce, display, distribute, or otherwise use the transcript, in whole or in part, in any way for any public or commercial purpose without the express written permission of WAMU. All requests for uses beyond personal and noncommercial use should be referred to (202) 885-1200.