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).