June 17, 2008 - written for John, my father figure

Welcome to Washington DC, our nation’s capital. I am sitting alone in my hotel room, realizing this is my first day of life at 32 years old, in a trendy neighborhood called Georgetown. I walked around tonight I felt completely safe with people dining outside everywhere. There are so many young people out and about here in DC! The weather outside is 75 and breezy and slowly cooling this mid June night. I am sitting at a beautiful mahogany desk with a portrait of honest Abe Lincoln behind my head. Yes, DC plays up the government aspect… portraits of George Washington and the Constitution look down on me in bed. Two flat screen televisions adorn the walls in my hotel room, one by my desk and the other by my king size bed. Wow! I’m living in luxury. How did I get here? Why am I so blessed? Well, let me try to answer those questions in a humorous way. This morning I hopped on the Chinatown bus line and for fifteen dollars I got to sit alone zipping from Philadelphia to Washington DC in a little under three hours. I’d like to believe that most people won’t try the Chinatown bus lines because they think they’re low quality because they’re cheap. Air conditioned comfort, free Wi-Fi and my IPod Touch – I watched YouTube videos and read/composed emails all the way down here.

The Chinatown bus pulled into a random parking lot in Chinatown. Oddly, Chinatown DC is really beautiful. The streets are made of brick – in fact most streets in DC are made of something other than plain old cement – giving them a lot of class. In fact, I saw that DC has a lot of class in general. I walked by several girls dressed like Agent Scully from the X-files. Yes, they are classy indeed! Soon after, I walked by the Chinatown gate, but it did not measure up to good ol’ Philadelphia’s…. ah, that’s probably because I live there.

So, I found my way to the Best Western in Georgetown and I met the receptionist for the first time that I spoke to several times on the telephone. I was certain he was Indian, but when I met him I was surprised to see that he was from some African nation. Nonetheless, he was very busy at the desk handling three or four phone calls while I waited. I casually said, “Wow, I didn’t know you had it so busy here.” Maybe the extra kindness scored me this beautiful hotel room that is listed at $399 a night on the front door. I have complete privacy – no other rooms are adjacent and I have a nice street view. Maybe it’s just dumb luck. Nevertheless, my co-worker who is also here has a small little location. I have to say that being nice to people who don’t deserve it does not always pay off, but being nice in general has helped me again and again in life. They call it karma. You get what you give. I am so happy to be here… more on that later…

So I arrived in DC and what’s the first thing I wanted to do when I settled? RUN! I got dressed and I headed out after looking at a map for a minute with reckless abandon. I quickly found my way to Washington Square on onwards to you-got-a-friend-in Pennsylvania Avenue. I followed it past all the Agent Scully like girls leaving work between 5 and 5:30PM towards the White House. Yes, I was going to run passed to White House. I kept following the blue signs towards the White House. Apparently I ran right past it! Well, the back of it anyway…. Only after I realized the whole street was closed off to cars and a hoard of people were surrounding an area on the carless block. I overlooked the White House! Oops! At that time I thought it was anticlimactic. And guess what? Right next to the White House is a building that disturbingly looks a lot like Philadelphia’s City Hall. The main difference between City Hall and this building are stone decks on two of the levels where you can walk outside. That would be dangerous in Philadelphia – I bet some of the municipal employees would jump off. (just kidding)

After finding the proper White House front that we all know and love from television, I got more energized. I saw the Washington moment soaring into the air of a crisp blue sky and I was excited. Nevertheless, I had to the sudden urge to find those reflecting pools that were in the movie Forrest Gump! You know, where Forrest Gave the speech when he returned from Vietnam and Jenny saw him. They both waded out into the middle of the fountain and hugged in joy – both happy the other was alive. I was in my glory by these reflective pools, but I came to a startling realization. Apparently the ducks in the pool really enjoy releasing their pooh on the marble on the sides of the pool. There were at least three families trying to get those duck pooh off of their children’s shoes! It was all over the place! There was probably three times as much pooh as the ducks and ducklings. Amazing…. I continued on to the Lincoln memorial. Etched in stone was the saying something like “Please be respectful and be quiet” Well, it was far from quiet! Those people need to get the library and sharpen up on their reading. That’s right … I was trying to find the Library of Congress…

But I cannot resist saying one more thing about the duck pooh. I ran back from the Lincoln Memorial on the other side of the reflective pools. Oddly, the duck pooh was only on one side of the reflective pools. It was completely pooh-free! I do not know if someone recently cleaned it up. I don’t understand duck psychology, but maybe they smell the pooh on one side and they think, "yes, this is the place to do it."

Moving away from the pooh diversion and back to my run, I knew the Library of Congress was near the capital and I could see way in the distance down the capital mall. I started running in the direction of the capital. Our capital is a fortress surrounded by gates. You cannot even walk up (or run) the steps any more. What a letdown. Nevertheless, the best thing about the capital was the map outside of it guiding me to the Library of Congress, almost directly behind it. I ran, passing several other old guys, to the Jefferson building of the Library of Congress. Happily, I rushed up the stairs (they were open and un-gated) to my final destination. Suddenly it all hit me! It’s kind of like Rocky climbing up the steps of the art museum. I thought about all the pain and sacrifices I have made to get this master’s degree in library science. I am not there yet, but running up those steps made me realize that I may not be a doctor, lawyer, or other school skilled person, but I soon will no longer be a simply a computer programmer, a computer guy, a database developer, but instead I will hold a real title: an American Library Association certified librarian! I find some comfort in holding a title in which no one can take away from you – because you earned it!

All of this just leads back to karma, or getting what you give. I think of how lucky I am to be here in this beautiful neighborhood, in a beautiful room, attending a librarian conference in a trade I have not yet even completely earned my way. People believe I am going to do it –my friends, my family, and my bosses. I have been at my library for 10 months and they’ve already accepted me and sent me here … even on our shoestring budget. I am truly grateful and I hope I feel at home experiencing the three day National Library Service for the Blind program that begins tomorrow. Thanks for reading the thoughts of a soon-to-be librarian.

Have a great day!