Sunday, December 21, 2008

Hitting Parties 4, 5, and 6 out of the Park

So I'm at home in Walla Walla. And I thought I'd put the blog to rest, as I assume a large percentage of my audience is now in a stone's throw distance from me. But the MoM and the dAd have both been asking for write up the rest of my holiday parties. I think I'm about ready to be done writing about parties (and you might be done reading about them) so here it goes.

Party number 4 was a Christmas tree decorating party at the volunteer house sponsored by the volunteer corps board. Which in theory is perfect. A member of the board took Deanna and me to pick out a tree on Saturday morning. Deanna has never done this before, so we were both excited. We picked out a lovely tree and on Sunday the board came over to help us decorate it. and they brought us food, drinks, and even presents!

And this would have been perfect had I not woken up on Sunday morning with a terrible cold. So I drugged myself with cold meds, and propped myself up on the couch and let people come to visit me and my pile of Kleenex or leave me be for fear of germs. All in all a lovely party, but I would have enjoyed it much more if I had not felt miserable.

Party number five was the Samaritan Ministry staff party. There was a lot of great food, some of my favorite people, and the big event: a white elephant gift exchange. It was one of those things where everyone brings wrapped gifts and you are allowed to unwrap a gift, or steal an already open one. Gifts could only be stolen three times before they are retired. Well you know that its going to be a good name when "you are in fact allowed to steal from a nun" is a rule that actually have to be articulated!

My supervisor had given me and the other interns a gifts of a bottle of wine each. And it occurred to me part way through the gift exchange that I should try to see how many bottles of wine I could go home from work with, but this strategy failed. However, I was very successful in my thefts in the search for the perfect gift. I ended up with a "tranquility fountain" foe my desk and I was very satisfied. However, I did have to take the bus home from DuPont circle with a bottle of wine, a tranquility fountain and a large tray of vegetables. That was an interesting bus ride.

The final Christmas season party I will write about was at the home of a couple on the volunteer corps board. It was a wonderful party. They even loaned us their own car so we could drive ourselves there! When we arrived at the party, the house was full of people we had never met, and we were easily the youngest people present. But very quickly the other young adults present (they work with the hostess) found us and we held court on the porch, letting people come to us. This ended up being a very successful party strategy, and we even met a few members of Westmoreland church we'd never encountered before, by sitting still and letting them come to us.

And this wraps up my party write ups. If I went to any other parties, I'm not telling!!!

Friday, December 19, 2008

Whatever you do, don't say Christmas

Party number three was "organized" by me. I put it that way, because there really wasn't a ton for me to organize. It was the Christmas party for our single participants, or more its the opposite of the family party. Its for participants who don't have small children.
My task was creating fliers, signing up participants, decorating the office and organizing how the party would actually flow.

I set up a fake Christmas tree. My supervisor picked up food from Boston Market. We had presents and gift cards and Christmas Music. I had the participants play a game. When they arrived they got a ribbon to pin to their shirt and a number for the gift give away.

The pins were for a game we played. The game was that I set a secret word: "Christmas." If you catch someone saying Christmas you get to take their pin. If you said Christmas you lost your pin. The person with the most pins at the end got an extra gift card. And luckily for me, they really got into the game. They spent the party tricking each other into saying it.

The participants wanted me to be able to play, so they decided I could say the word once, every time I had to explain it to latecomers. One man even tried to trick me into saying it as I right after I finished explaining the rules of the game.

The gift giving part of the party went pretty smoothly. We had some nice things to give out, and I think people were happy. The food was good, and there was a good amount of it. One of the associate caseworkers even brought his guitar in and sang Christmas carols. This created the funniest part of the party. Imagine singing the "Twelve Days of Christmas" with a room full of people refusing to say the word Christmas! It was great. The winner had about 12 pins displayed proudly in a column on his jacket by the end of the party.

But the best and most unexpected part for me, was that a couple of participants asked to say a few words. And they made us all cry, telling us how much Samaritan Ministry means to them and how thankful they are. It was a very sweet ending to a funny party.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Stalking the Beastie Boys

As it turns out, party number two was a completely different scene. Bread for the City, Deanna's employer, got invited as a guest organization to a record company's swanky Christmas party. And the employee's who are part of volunteer corps got to invite their entire houses. Which meant that not only did Deanna get to invite us, but all of our favorite volunteer corps friends were there also. We've been hanging out with other volunteer corps a lot. They are awesome people and none of us have any money, so having them all at this (free) party was great.

I had already made plans with my sisters friend Maryam to got to coffee before the party. We ended up having pizza at this great place in Dupont. It has huge slices of pizza and no chairs, only counters to stand at. As it was raining outside, we stood. I had a great time with Maryam and then I was off to meet my housemates at the recording studio.

It was great, I had my name on a list and everything. That may be a first in my life! My housemates were there when I arrived, so Jen met me at the elevator, which was useful, as I would have never found them otherwise. Jen took me on a little tour, which basically consisted of wondering around their office, looking at platinum records they had produced that were hanging on the wall.

So we joined my housemates. And Deanna’s boyfriend, Joe, told me (as a form of greeting) that he thought the two men over by the coat check, were in fact the Beastie Boys. Which was very logical, as one of them was the DJ for the second stage of the party over at the 930 Club in U Street.

So I accompanied Rachel on a reconnaissance mission, AKA we stalked the Beastie Boys. We approached the target and saw the two suspects. At this point I realized that I am the worst spy ever. I have essentially no idea what the Beastie Boys look like. I know their music a little bit, and I’m aware of who they are, but I’m not sure I’ve ever seen them in any from of visual media. Definitely not at any other coat checks. So the result of the mission: well, no idea. I think so. Rachel and Joe think yes. Maybe not my finest celebrity stalking moment.

Shortly after this they started flashing the lights at us, prompting us the make the mass voyage over to the 930 Club. On the way we wondered through an adorable little Christmas Street Fair set up near Metro Center. I felt like I’d accidentally wandered into Santa's Village.

So at the 930 Club we had to stand in line, have our names on yet another list and show our ID about 7 times. But we got in and were able to dump our coats, which was great, as they really would have interfered with the crazy person dancing we then initiated. This was the best part of the night. All out vol corps friends were there, and we hung out and danced, and were ridiculous and silly.

At 10 (woah party animals) the free portion of the night was done, and so were we. We traveled back to there metro, where we almost lost Noah to the allure of a carry out place boasting all kinds of ethnic foods, which frankly scared me.

Then we went home (after taking a little nap on the metro), and tried unsuccessfully to order pizza. Finally we put a frozen pizza in the oven and went to bed. This last portion of the evening took place in reality with a lot more boisterous voices and a lot of (playful) yelling at each other, but all that will benefit from not being overly documented. Or to the contrary, sometimes I think we would be a captivating reality show.

Friday, December 12, 2008

My Friend, Santa Claus

So this has been a crazy week for me. I have attended (or thrown) but also a total of five (5!) Christmas Parties and counting.

I'm going to go back to a week and a half ago, Sunday the 7th and start with party number one.
Party number one was the family Christmas part for our program participants and their children. This was really neat. We joined up with one of our Partner Parishes and another organization to throw a party with lots of food, crafts, and a room downstairs where the parents could pick out presents for their children. The really cool thing about the way this was organized was that there were many volunteers at the craft tables making really neat things with the kids. What this meant was that the parents could leave their children doing a craft and go pick out a gift for them, so it would be a surprise!

My supervisor had been planning this party for months and I think it went really well. 40 families came, which apparently is fewer than usual, but not unsuccessful by any means.
I spent the first hour of the party writing peoples names on bags that they could put their coats in. Not the most satisfying of activities.

But I spent the second hour of the party hanging out with the guy playing Santa Claus. Apparently this man is a district attorney who has been coming to the party for years playing Santa Claus. I got to be the photographer. Which meant I got to chat with him until a child came up to have their picture taken. This happened in a lot of different ways. Some kids had to be dragged up. Some ran up on their own. One very cute little girl came up to show Santa the craft as she was leaving. She said, "I love you Santa." Which was completely adorable. A couple of times I had to take the picture before the kid started screaming. One mother even handed me her tiny 4 month old baby to give to Santa Clause! Talk about trusting. And adorable.

The only negative part of this is it took me a grand total of 4 hours to get to the party and back. Which effectively meant it took up my entire Sunday. But it was a good time, and I'm happy to have been a part of it.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

If Music be the Food of Love...

On Monday, I saw my 2nd play in DC. It feels a little unbelievable that I've been here for over 3 months and have only seen 2 plays. But priorities change. And theatre is an expensive habit. Inversely finding ways to make it less expensive is time consuming.

So I went to see Twelfth Night at Shakespeare Theatre Company with a group of other volunteers. So first of all I need to explain my personal history with the play Twelfth Night. It was the third play (out of 35) that I saw when I studied abroad in London my junior year. I was going for my Shakespeare class. I had been given the script something like the day before and requested to read it. Needless to say, I'd didn't get it all read before I went to the play. And I didn't expect this production of a Shakespeare play I didn't know to become my most perfect theatre going experience. I fell in love with the production, and with the play itself. Twelfth Night may be my favorite Shakespeare play.

And last year, I saw a production of it in Seattle that I liked enough, but didn't love. And I thought maybe my love for Twelfth Night was always going to stay with that elusive perfect night of theatre.

So I'm not entirely sure what my expectations for Monday night were. It was opening night. We got 10 dollar tickets for the third row, which ended up being perfect. The theatre itself was amazing. It was a proscenium stage, which isn't always my favorite, but the theatre was new, had great capabilities and I doubt there was a bad seat in the house. Talk about good design of a theatre space.

Every time I go see a play, I try to take a little time to think about why I liked it or not. What makes theatre "Good?" Taste is so subjective. You can think a play had excellent actors, set, costume and production values and not enjoy it at all. What is a barometer of good theatre?
So this is all building up to the fact that I adored this production of Twelfth Night, almost as much as the elusive London production.

The acting was wonderful. The woman who played Viola made a delightful boy. She had a quality sort of reminiscent of Julie Andrews, and it was charming.

This production also made a lot of sense. The actors seemed to understand every word they were saying and this leads to the audience feeling like they are not even speaking in verse. It honestly can feel like modern English. Although to be fair, I know the play pretty well, to the point where I can anticipate jokes, so it would be a very bad sign indeed if I couldn't understand what they were saying.

But more than just making the language accessible, they made sense of a few plot things that don't always follow. The scene where Olivia and Viola meet for the first time, was played with five women dressed identically and veiled, kneeling in prayer. So when Viola cannot tell who is the lady of the house, it makes sense! I've seen this played with just Viola, Olivia and a Maria who is clearly a servant, and the effect was unintentionally goofy.

I think one of the reasons I like Twelfth Night so much is that the characters find themselves in difficult positions not because they are unlikable jerks, or unintelligent, but because of something inescapably human: death. Viola and Olivia are both mourning the death of a brother. And the whole main plot rotates around this sorrow. It steeps the play in a kind of melancholy of longing and also of unrequited love. Viola finds herself in a very dangerous position. She has crashed on a new land, and believes her brother is dead. She seems to have some money but no family, connections or prospects. So she does something both logical and brave: dresses as a boy and goes to work for the duke of Ilyria. What other options did she really have? Interesting the play doesn’t dwell on this problem.

However, this cross dressing creates some serious problems. A woman falls in love with a woman (disguised as a boy). Viola, disguised as a boy, falls in love with the Duke. And in turn the Duke sort of loves this boy Viola is pretending to be. One single person cross dressing for a very good reason throws the entire universe of the play off kilter.

I find the love story between Duke Orsino and Viola to be especially poignant. The reveal that it is in fact acceptable for Orsino to be n love with Viola, because she is in fact a woman, may be a little too convenient. Especially with some of the commentary this production seemed to be making with some of the same sex attractions. But their attraction and love for each other felt genuine and the moment where Viola is revealed to be a woman had a delightful sense of discomfort, along with the joy.

Maybe one of the reasons I enjoy Twelfth Night so much is its musicality. How could I not love something that begins, “If music be the food of love, play on.” And Twelfth Night seems to contain more songs and lend itself better to music than almost any other Shakespeare play. This production had a small orchestra and a young soprano on one of the side balconies, and their use of music was effective. The actor who played Feste, the fool, was also a wonderful singer and had a good sort of magnetic gravity to him. And as he ends the play with a song, this is especially important.

So ultimately, have I made any progress on my quest to find out what makes a play good? I don’t know. I know what I enjoy, and can anticipate what I am likely to enjoy, but I don’t think I will ever be able to figure out the formula to it.

I could go on and on (and sort of did). But I'll end my thoughts here. Going to this play reminded me again why I love theatre, and maybe even why it was my major. I’m also happy to know that I in fact do love the play “Twelfth Night” and that love doesn’t end with just one particularly moving production.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Cheesecake Wars

Now I feel I need to talk a little about my actual Thanksgiving. My sister Carolyn just did a lovely job articulating both her Bulgarian Thanksgiving and all that she's thankful for (which includes me!) And so by no means is this a blog competition, but she's inspired me to write a little more.

On Thursday morning I was supposed to wake up early to go to Virgina and go to a Thanksgiving service with Alacia and her family. And since Westmoreland did their Thanksgiving service last Sunday and I have never been to a Thanksgiving day service before I was a little excited. However, I was not so excited about having to get up earlier than I wake up for work to get there at 9:30 am. But my internal clock did the deciding for me; I slept through my alarm. This happens to me every now and then. Usually when I know I need to get up early I set two alarms. Right now I only have one. Uh oh. Well I woke up when I should have already been on the bus, so I called in late to Alacia and she agreed very sweetly to pick me up at the Metro at 11 after the service.

I got up and adventured to the grocery store to buy flowers. My lovely hosts had told me I didn't need to bring anything, but I didn't want to arrive empty handed so a bought a very pretty bouquet of orange and white flowers. Which I just realized I should have taken a picture of! But anyway, getting on the metro all dressed up wearing my slightly old fashioned winter coat (Carolyn, I'm not knocking the coat, I love it) carrying flowers made me feel a little displaced in time. Something about it felt a little surreal. Also I love people watching and it was especially fun trying to figure out where people might be going on the metro at 10 on Thanksgiving.

I got there with no problem. And when I got there most of the cooking was done. I lent my excellent skills with an electric mixer to the yams and that was it. So if you are shopping for a new Thanksgiving experience I much recommend a small dinner with a family that is not your own. There were only five of us, so not mountains of food and not too many dishes. And no matter how many times I asked there was not too much for me to do to help.

It was a very nice, and classic dinner with all the old favorites. The best part of the dinner was probably that Alacia and her brother had a cheesecake war. Which means that they both made cheesecake! In a cheesecake war, I think everyone wins.

Also of note, apparently before I came there were jokes about my friend bringing me as a date for her brother. And he was very nice and very polite, but that was it. As a note, if anyone else would like to set me up with any other young, elementary school music teachers, who also work at a theatre, I wouldn't mind. At all. Also I hope Alacia reads this! I'm reall just being silly, please don't set me up with anyone.

So I had a good time, headed home early where I phoned home and got passed around the living room on the phone, which is always confusing and funny. All in all it was a good first Thanksgiving away from home. And if Cheesecake Wars is the tradition I pick up from this year, even better!

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Giving Thanks

So I'm at home alone in my house tonight on Thanksgiving Eve. Now, don't worry, I have plans for tomorrow. Actually I had 5 offers for Thanksgiving dinner. I've decided to go to my coworkers parent's house in Virgina and I'm very excited about it.
But tonight I'm home alone. Which is fine. I like cooking myself dinner and watching TV alone occasionally. But tonight is one of those nights that has a significance and a sense of expectation.
This is the first Thanksgiving I won't be with my family. 22 thanksgivings with them one, without actually makes me very fortunate. But tonight I'm a little sad not to be in Walla Walla with them.
So instead of feeling sad or sorry for myself I've decided to think a little about the things I'm thankful for. I'm living in a beautiful home in Washington DC. I love my job and my house mates. I'm very fortunate.
One of my program participants told me today that "the homeless don't get a holiday." But I do, and I think its needed. I've been feeling a little less patient the last few days with the program participants. Now I have a little time to take a few deep breaths and regain some of that initial joy and patience I had in my casework.
I have a chance to refresh and recharge with this 4 day weekend and I'm going to embrace it.
I will miss making deviled eggs, polishing the silver, and eating my moms turkey. I'll need a status report on how the dad does making the corn casserole this year; its always different and always an adventure. I'm happy to know that Aunt Jane's pies will go on with out me. And who knows, maybe I'll still have a chance to cheat at cards sometime tomorrow.
But most of all "bless the apple pie and tea, bless each and every calorie," as the Boys and Girls Club Thanksgiving prayer tells us every year. That neatly encapsulates my feelings right now.
I'll miss being there but I'm happy to be here. This all might be a little sappy, but what is Thanksgiving if not a time for nostalgia? Most of all I'm happy to have so much to be nostalgic about. And you know what? Its not going anywhere (even if this year I'm not going anywhere either).
So friends and family on the other side of the country(or across the ocean), I love you and will miss you tomorrow especially.
This weekend I plan to have a wonderful time with a family kind enough to take me in. I will take time to get in order whatever I need to get in order to be the best possible case worker I can be on Monday morning. And I will take a few moments to consider how truly lucky I am.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Graduation and Shakespeare

Friday was a big day. My housemate Jen works at SOME’s Center for Employment Training and Friday was their graduation. People enter and end the program on their own schedule and they have twice yearly graduation, and Jen invited all of us to come be a part of it.

On Friday morning I went to work like normal. It was a reasonably busy Friday. Even with the lead case worker, the associate caseworker and I there, we still all saw a lot of participants. I went on a little bus adventure. Really it wasn’t an adventure, just an hour long bus ride. It was actually pretty neat. The bus from my office took me right downtown DC, even past the White House. Then I switched buses and went over the river into south east, which is really not as ominous as it sounds.

The best part of this is when I was on the second bus, my housemate Noah got on the bus with me. I hadn’t even known that Noah was coming to the graduation. So we found Jen’s building easily and Jen was saving us seats right in the second row, like celebrities. My coworkers from our SE office were also there. One of our front office coordinators was graduating from CET. They were there to support her and I got to support Jen.

And coincidently, my fellow intern and I, Jalaine, were going to a play together later that night so it worked out really well.
The graduation was just that, a graduation. However, it was a fun graduation, with a real sense of ceremony. The graduates wore gowns. There was even a key note speaker who is a talk radio personality. She was very interactive and focused on the graduates. I was glad to be a part of it.

After the ceremony, a crowd of us went out for drinks. We went to Lucky Bar in Dupont, which I loved. Jalaine and I ate dinner and headed out to Arlington Virginia for our play, “All’s Well that End’s Well.” We went early to avoid ending up late and ended up in the middle of nowhere Virginia 50 minutes early for our play. And in the middle of nowhere Virginia there is nowhere to get a cup of coffee or a beer. There were only closed government buildings and friendly police officers (who may have been surrounding a deserted building…?) who helped us find the playhouse.

The theatre was Washington Shakespeare company. Once we found it and went on a time killing walk and got settled in out seats, I was pretty happy. The theatre was a black box and they had built a series of platforms and there were no fewer than four black and white beds as a part of the set. Which I thought was great. Not in a dirty way. But in a “if you show a gun in the first act, it better go off by the third act.” I think it’s the same with beds. If you have four beds on stage you better use them. And they did. There were a couple of seduction scenes that, ahem, utilized the beds.

So I found the play enjoyable. But I think there is a reason that “All’s Well That End’s Well” is not preformed more. It has kind of an odd romantic plot where I could not understand why the heroine would ever be interested in the man and a subplot involving humiliating an old soldier or possibly someone only pretending to be a war hero. While I thought they did a great job of making the verse understandable, I found this sub plot totally incomprehensible. And I think I understand Shakespeare pretty well generally. So having made the decision not to read this play before seeing it, I'm not sure if I have a problem with the play, or the production.

So for my first play in DC, it was pretty good. I think next I need to go to something actually in Metro DC. But altogether it was a great Friday.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

No Touching

So this is a subject I’ve been thinking about almost the whole time I’ve had my new job.

And before you get nervous, this is entirely PG. Its not good touch bad touch. That is my house mates job over at DC Rape Crisis Center.

What I’m interested in is participants wanting to hug me, pat my arm and shake my hand.

And I should preface this by saying that in my personal life, I’m pretty physically affectionate. I love hugs and cuddling. In fact one Miss Kate Stone even told me once, “Char, I think your only boundary is clothing.” Which might be some degree of true.

Practically, what this means is that I need to find my boundaries and comfort zone at work. I’ve never really had a job before where physical contact was an issue. People don’t really try to touch you when you scoop them ice cream or check out books to them at the Puget Sound library. Although I always giggled when someone asked me if I wanted to “check them out.”

So it was surprising to me on my second week of casework when a participant reached out and toughed my side. He was making a point and touched me to emphasize it. I was shocked when I had an involuntary, almost visceral, negative reaction. It was all I could do to keep from jumping back. And I did step back gently and discourage him from hugging me. This particular program participant is someone I struggle with. In this same conversation he told my coworker that “I needed to be trained up better.”

To illustrate my point abut physical contact I have to say that the evening after this happened, I was standing in the doorway of my kitchen talking to my housemate Rachel about the incident and why my gut reaction had been so negative. And my housemate, Noah, walked up mid conversation and rested his elbow on my shoulder as a form of greeting. Also I might have been blocking the doorway. He had been doing dishes and had no idea that we had been talking about “touching” when he came up and touched me. So clearly it is not all touching that upsets me.

I have another program participant, a young woman, who initiates a hug me every time she comes in and this is fine.

I had some training at some point, maybe when I was an orientation leader, that taught me that when in a position of power, you should always let your “subordinate” (for lack of a better word) set the rules about physical contact. Such as, don’t touch a student’s arm unless they have already established some form of contact. You can never know what someone's comfort level is.

So I’ve been basically following my own rule with participants. I don’t touch them at all unless they initiate it. And if I am at all uncomfortable being touched, I don’t allow it. I even refused to shake one mans hand when he made it into a power play. And I’m not sure if you’ve ever been in a position where you had to turn down a handshake, but it is truly uncomfortable. And awkward.
So here I''ll end the ramble about touching from the queen of both awkward situations and cuddling. I'm not sure I've yet to answer this issue, but it is interesting to explore.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Charlotte Thinks About Obama

So Barack Obama. Obama is everywhere. I don't mean this is a new age-y "we're surrounded by the promise of hope" way nor am I suggesting that our potential future president is a stalker. Instead, I think I mean that I cannot move throughout my days without encountering the election approximately every 15 minutes. Part of this is because I'm in Washington DC. Proximity to the actual movers and shakers of our political system does really charge this city with a particular energy.

However, it is everywhere. My program participants talk about Obama and how excited they are about him. I try to avoid talking about politics with our participants. I think casework is a little like a dinner party: I never bring up religion, sex or politics. However, they often (well, sometimes) want to talk about these things, especially Obama. Today a participant was wearing a white hat with very large black letters that said OBAMA. That was the entire hat. No other logo, no other message. I loved it.

We have an Obama pumpkin at my house. My lovely housemate Deanna carved her pumpkin (after carrying it all over DC. Twice.) To say "08 VOTE" with the "08" as the eyes and the "O" as the Obama "O" and as the mouth. So Obama pumpkin hangs out next to the Obama sign in the window.

On nice days, I walk home from work instead of taking 2 buses. And while I walk, I take in nature, foliage, and small animals. There may be an entire blog post on my musing about nature coming up... But anyway, one day when I was about half way home, I decided to start counting the political yard signs. And almost immediately I saw something that made me laugh out loud. By myself. One reasonably large yard had a total of three Obama signs. One on the far side, one in the middle, and one very close to their neighbors single "McCain/Palin" sign. The neighbor on the other side of the McCain sign had two Obama signs. So is that the correct ratio? 5 Obama to cancel out the negative energy of one McCain? It seems like a reasonable formula. However I wonder how a neighborhood potluck might go on that block...

At work, we even spent the staff bonding time at a particularly memorable staff meeting asking and attempting to answer: is America ready for a black president? (I'll come back to this)

So you would think that the culmination of this whole campaign for me should have been casting my vote for Obama. Instead it was a little anticlimactic. My absentee ballot arrived from Washington State on a night I was alone in the house. Unlike my sister I didn't even have an Obama shirt to wear while I filled in my bubbles very carefully. So I sat on the couch watching the show Greek on television and voted for Obama. There it was. My big moment. And then I very carefully affixed a stamp (Thanks MoM for sending me stamps with American flags on them) walked to the front door and clipped my ballot to the mailbox. No marching band, no film crew, no roommate with a digital camera. Just a girl from Washington State doing her part all the way from our Nations Capital.

And now, all this rambling might have a point.

To give my own personal answer the the question posed by my staff meeting: I hope America is ready. Not just for a black man, but for this man. Barack Obama.
Today, a volunteer caseworker who comes in once a week told me that when he sees me again we will have a new president. This event, so many years in the making is almost here.

What is America's answer? But the thing I really wonder is: Do we even know the question anymore?

Monday, October 27, 2008

Location, Location, Location

I moved across the country. After two months this is not a news flash to anyone. However, it is a huge change. And clearly I did know that I was moving to Washington DC. And I did understand that it is almost physically as far away from Washington state as you can get and still be in the United States.

Yet the actuality of this is still startling. There are the simple things, such as not recognizing any store names. A good example of this is World Market. There is a World Market near my metro stop. I assumed it was a grocery store. Wrong. It is in fact an import store for things, more like Pier One, I guess. Or Harris Teeter. When someone mentioned this store I literally thought they were speaking another language.

Another thing I never thought about is my accent. I mean, I’m aware of accents because I studied abroad in London. And I was a theatre major. Clearly accents come up every once in a while. I just didn’t think I had one. Apparently I do. Although people seem to think I’m from the Midwest…? So I’m not sure where that comes from, but I feel foreign in a lot of ways.

It is a long distance to be away from home. And I am a little oblivious. I know way less about the geography of this side of the country than I should. To the point that it is a little embarrassing. So maybe I should spend some time with a map? If anyone has any suggestions, I’m open.

And simply my attitude towards location and distance needs some adjusting. In Walla Walla, I would hesitate to drive an hour to go to a shopping mall. Yet here my commute to work is 45 minutes each way. And I considered going to school roughly a 5 hour drive from my hometown reasonably close. I think a 5 hour drive from DC would take me through 2 or 3 states. Maybe. Obviously geography is not a strength of mine. So maybe I’m not actually in a different country, but culturally I still feel a little bit at sea in some ways.

Friday, October 17, 2008

The Triumphant Arrival

So here it is. The DC blog 2.0. Better, stronger and more personal. By popular demand I have created a blog that is strictly mine, not shared with the lovely housemates. Don't fear, the joint Westmoreland volunteer blog, Candles in the City, still exists. I just don't think it will get updated very often. It turns out that only 2 out of the five of us are even remotely excited about having a blog.

And that leads me here, where I can post as often as I like. And where I can be a little less general and a little more emotional and specific.

Right now, I'm still loving the house and I am feeling much more settled into my job. I love it. I haven't explored Washington DC to satisfaction yet, but I'm happy just to be here. I'm getting ready to experience the election from possibly the most relevant and exciting place to be right now.

So that's it for my attempt at an introduction. Next time around more excitement(hopefully).