Yebo - Joey and the Deltones

In a way, this song kind of represents me at my best. It is a snapshot of me at my most idealistic, dreamy, and hopeful.

Friday, February 27, 2009

January Catch Up - Inauguration

If my days were a magic trick, they would be the disappearing coin trick.  

If my days were a stain on a shirt, someone must be washing them with tide ultra max laundry detergent.

If my days were a celestial object, they would be shooting stars.  Here, then gone, before I even realized it was here to begin with, and then having someone say "WHOA, DID YOU SEE THAT ONE?" only to have me answer, "See what one?"    

My days, as you can see, have been disappearing before my very eyes, leaving me at the end of them, trodding up to bed to wait for a routine process that repeats all too quickly.  At times, it almost feels like I'm back in South Africa, only technically, here at home, I have a million and a half more things to keep me occupied.  This is nothing like my life in South Africa, but I still feel feelings of being trapped and scatterbrained, unable to focus on simple tasks at hand.  

But only when I'm home.  That's why I've been traveling so much.  

Back to January....


The walk to the mall

Since the tears first ran down my face at 6am (South Africa time) on the day after election day, I made a promise to myself:  If I was home in January, I was going to the inauguration.  No bones about it.  I had missed out on enough history and happenings since being away, and if I was home, there was no excuse for me not to be present with millions of other people witnessing such an event.  

See, I've been an Obama guy since 2004.  I think it's safe to say that he won over a lot of young starry-eyed folk such as myself [and more seasoned older folk as well] with his DNC speech back all those years ago.  In the fall of 2006 when he was toying around with the idea of running for president, no one gave him a snowball's chance.  But I kept telling people close to me to just wait.  I knew he was exactly the type of leader the country was pining for after such a dismal past 8 years.  The rest of the country just didn't know it yet.  I felt something telling me that this was entirely possible, when everyone else was saying no.  

I wish I had been home for events pre-election time.  I wanted to hit the streets and do what I could to campaign for the man, but I accepted that I made a choice to be abroad and spend my time, energies and efforts working with our brothers and sisters in Africa.  

Anyway, the time for swearing in came, and I found myself in DC on inauguration day.  

How was that day?  For starters, the word "cold" doesn't come near to describing the temperature outside.  

I was staying at my wonderful friend Rachel's apartment.  We woke up at ass o'clock in the morning on Tuesday, the darkness outside penetrating my brain, telling it "GO BACK TO SLEEP MORON."  

I would not go back to sleep.  We had to hit the road.  No one really knew what to expect at any point during the day.  

I began dressing.

Thick socks.
Hiking boots. 
Turtle neck.
Light fleece.
Fleece vest.
Thick fleece.

I had 7 layers up on my torso.  I was good and toasty up in the chestular region.  I thought that would be enough.

The crowds were massive.  The security was everywhere.  You could buy anything Obama-themed you wanted.  People were selling everything in existence from buttons, to bandanas, to hats and gloves, to framed photos of Obama next to Jesus (a bit much, if I do say so myself), and my personal favourite, Michelle Obama monthly wall calendars.

We managed to get a spot about 4 mall sections back from the Capitol reflecting pool, right by the Art Museum.  We parked ourselves around 7:30 am in view uf a jumbo-tron, and had a surprising amount of space around us.  We had hand and toe warmers with us, but in my opinion, they should be renamed hand luke-warmers, because they did jack for my outermost appendages.  

I was with Rachel and two of her friends from college.  To pass the time, we played games like, "Guess Which Finger Isn't In My Glove" as well as, "You Hold This Hand Warmer Against My Face Then I'll Do The Same To You" and my personal favourite, "Can You Check To See If My Feet Are Still Attached To My Body?  I Feel As If Someone May Have Amputated Them Due To Severe Frostbite From This Face Numbing Cold Weather".

My feet felt like they were soaking in buckets of ice for the entire length of the morning.  It actually drove me a little bonkers.  

The morning view

Though the weather was frigid, the people were many, and the waiting time long, there was an air of contentment all around that could not be denied by anyone.  I noticed it throughout the entire day.  No matter how crowded a section of people would get, no matter how slow moving a mass of bodies was progressing, no matter how many accidental bumps, knocks or mishaps occurred, everyone was amazingly calm, cool and collected.  It's difficult to describe accurately - being from NY and having spent lots of time among masses of people, I never expected a crowd this large to be so docile.  It was unreal.  

I brought my camera along with me for the day, but it was so cold and I was so miserable throughout the morning, that I took it out very little.  Cold temperatures zap the battery life down to nothing as well, and in addition, Obama was about a mile away at the Capitol, so I couldn't exactly snap a photo of him with his hand on Lincoln's bible.  

I did manage to get some crowd shots.  Being 5' 9" is not an ideal height for taking crowd shots when you're stuck smack dab in the middle of it all.  But I had an idea to solve the problem posed by my vertically challenged stature.  I braved the cold, took off my gloves and got to work - I painstakingly attached my camera to my tripod, expanded the legs as far as they would go, set the auto focus on the camera, shrunk the aperture to f22, set the timer for 10 seconds, pressed the shutter, hoisted up the unit, aimed, and waited for the shutter to click.  I felt like Macguyver.  With better hair.  Even though I'm losing it.  

The Crowd

The day was exhausting, but it was worth every ounce of energy spent getting thru it.  I felt most alive during certain parts of the day when the words of those speaking at the Capitol melted into me like butter on freshly made pancakes.  

I would savour the sensation of those moments when the tears slid down my face and froze on my cheek.  Those moments when I would well up with pride, hope and optimism for the days ahead.  

It was a day I needed very much for myself.  It was a day the country needed for itself.  

The day delivered.  

Let's hope my man can too.  

Thursday, February 5, 2009


There have been a few instances over the last few months that I've wanted to write about here, but I just haven't.  (Inauguration, Godfathering, Pirate Festivals... the usual)

My head has been in a million different spaces, and I've been trying desperately to get some sort of focus and direction.  My apologies for the extreme lack of posting the past 2 months.

I am still mostly unemployed - "mostly" meaning "completely" - but I have been busy (a little) networking and trying to find work as a photographer and or writer... ANYWHERE.  I've followed up on a few leads here and there to do freelance work, but nothing has come to fruition just yet.  I will keep at this for a long time because I realized definitively that this is the course I want to follow for myself.  

That said, I have a few projects lined up for myself over the course of the next few weeks/months:

1- My own website

It will be a comprehensive collection of my photos from the last 4 years, as well as be the new space for my blog.  Once that site is up and running, I will stop posting to this address.  It is extremely difficult to design a [good-looking and interesting] website from scratch, especially for someone with very little web design in their past.  I have contacted a few friends for assistance, and they have been more than helpful in referring me to resources I can use.  If any of you out there would looooove to help me get this thing under way any faster, please do contact me.  I'd love some help.  

2- My Album

As in, a musical album.  It will be a collection of songs I'd written since being in South Africa, plus one or two since my return home to the States.  At last count, I had 22 complete songs.  That may be too many for one album, so maybe I'll just have to do two.  I start the recording process in March.  I expect the project to take a few months.  

My album won't be so hardcore

3- My First Book

This first book will be a collection of all the blog posts and mass emails (plus a few long personal emails to friends) I had written during my time in Peace Corps.  For any avid followers of my online life for the past 2 years, it will be things you've most likely come across before.  But now it will be in book form, with all the pictures to go with the stories, plus a few extras that I may not have included before.  I intend to use a self-publisher for this book.

Sadly, neither one of my books will be about Gnomes

4- My Second Book

This aptly titled bullet point means just as it reads.  My second book will take [by a conservative estimate] a few years.  It will be everything and more from my time abroad.  That's all I have to say about that.  

I write about these projects here now for two reasons.  The first is that some people have been asking me what I've been up to lately.  Besides working out, getting huge (141 lbs! First time breaking 140 ever!), eating a million pounds of dad's home cooking, being a pirate and buying guitars, these are the goals I have set for myself.  

The second reason I am writing about all this is so I can hold myself responsible for reaching them.  It's one thing to say I will do something, another thing to follow thru.  I also hope that anyone reading this will hold me to my word and help me reach these goals.  

If any one out there has any input, advice, or may be able to assist in any way, please do contact me.  We can share our goals and help each other to reach them.  It's nice to be back in a life situation where communication flows freely (or at least inexpensively) and human contact is considered to be more the norm, rather than the exception.  

Until then, keep your eyes peeled.