Thursday, July 26, 2007

Baseball Trip 2-Why I Love This Country

As if our plan to see three baseball games wasn’t American enough, our free lodging trail ended in a suburb of Washington D.C., staying with a friend’s mom whose husband was in the FBI. A 30-minute bus ride and a subway train of the same length took us into the capital city, where we would quickly tour the limestone and marble buildings that tell the story of our nation’s history.

With time so short, we knew we had to prioritize. Our main goal was to get a tour of the Capitol, no matter what the cost. Okay, so if there was a cover charge, we probably wouldn’t have gone, but that’s one of the reasons I love this country. The museums in Washington that house our nation’s most precious treasures are free admission, and we’re probably the only country where the people throw around the word “constituent” like it gives us some entitlement.

And that’s exactly what we did: We called the Georgia congressmen from the Athens, Columbus and even Hartwell districts, asking for a guided tour. When none of them came through, we went for the Senate. In 2000, I did eight hours of volunteer work for Saxby Chambliss’ Senate campaign, and I was determined to use the hard time I served making signs and doing phone surveys as leverage if Mr. Chambliss happened to be too busy to get us in.

The Senate was nearing its annual recess, and the Sax was not in the office, but he had a full staff of interns who were more than happy to accommodate us, even though we arrived just 30 minutes before they stopped giving hour-long tours.

Strangely enough, we finished our tour with plenty of time to spare. Our three-man group wove through droves of hapless tourists, and our fast-talking guides (one of which was from Columbus and knew Evan) led us to many interesting sights.

Here’s a very abridged version of what we saw at the Capitol:

-Apparently, this Italian guy named Brumidi did a bunch of the craftsmanship in the Capitol. He worked on the smoky gray mural (the frieze) that circles the rotunda, and to thumb his nose at his overseers, he added his own face to the picture. Speaking of the rotunda, can you guess who is the person most pictured there besides George Washington? Pocahontas. Disney fans rejoice.

-In one of the halls where the Senate used to meet, there are gilded ceilings, and there’s one spot where the acoustics are so perfect you can hear a whisper from the other side of the room. One of the senators eavesdropped on the others while they were preparing their arguments, and they could never figure out why he made such great rebuttals (John Adams?)

-There’s a little starry, circular design on the floor in the catacombs beneath the rotunda. Washington D.C. was built around that very circle.

-Speaking of catacombs, a sweet little underground train takes the Senators to the Capitol, and to get on it you have to pass by a life-sized replica of the statue that stands atop the Capitol.

-It’s a little disappointing, but just about everything in the Capitol was made in Europe. The floor tiles were imported from England, and all the marble was brought in as well. Even the architecture was stolen from ancient civilizations. It’s kind of like how the Statue of Liberty was made by the French. I guess you can save face if you call your country a "melting pot."

By the way, the game that night was pretty dull. The Nationals did please the RFK Stadium crowd by getting an extra-inning victory. The guy behind us said that it was the best game they’d played all year, so apparently we got lucky. I hope that’s not true. If so, I would have to cry on behalf of Washington baseball fans. One more stadium down, two to go.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Life Update

It seems like forever since I've posted on the blog, but once you hear about the whirlwind that has been the past few months, I believe you'll forgive me.

My last post was a narrative about a baseball road trip that served as my bachelor party. In that post I gave the impression that I was going to continue writing about that trip, and I'd still like to, but I'm notorious for beginning compositions that never get finished. I've gotten better at that over the past few years, but that might just be because I don't start that many big projects anymore. I did finish a China narrative that spanned three or four handwritten journals, but I still haven't got around to typing it up.

I won't say that the baseball trip was my last ridiculous, completely illogical adventure. I don't think that part of me will die as I grow older (I have a little over 10 more stadiums to get to). But it was a relief from the real-world pressures of a newly graduated, almost-married twenty-something. As of that trip, my search for permanent employment was a little like the baseball trip narrative: unfinished. And I was less than a month away from marriage to a girl that needs food, clothing, shelter--among other essentials--to survive. The next few paragraphs highlight the recurring theme God's faithfulness in the face of my unpreparedness.

About two weeks before the wedding, I got a call from a potential employer in Decatur who wanted to meet with me for a second interview. At this point, I was still entertaining the possibility of heading to Montana to help plant a church with my pastor. I was torn because I didn't want to get sucked into a professional routine that would suck the life from my heart, but I also didn't want to starve, and I didn't want to move away from Georgia without the unwavering certainty of God's call on my life.
Long story short, Montana never panned out. I can't say I felt a specific "calling" to take the job in Decatur, but the definition of a calling becomes more fluid when your choices are either winging it or taking the obvious bet that God provided. My purpose as a married man would be to provide a home for my wife, something I couldn't do by vascillating back and forth between uncertain prospects of employment.

The week before the wedding, I called the man who is now my boss to tell him that I would take the job as an reporter at an Internet-based international business publication called GlobalAtlanta. This would not be slave labor. The pay was competitive for a recent journalism graduate, and I would get to write, interact with the Atlanta international (most importantly, the Chinese) community and learn the tricks of the journalism trade outside the high-pressure environment of a newspaper. Permanent employment? Check.

With that item off the list, there was still that pesky problem of relocating while preparing for a wedding and honeymoon, which at this point were less than a week away. Luckily, my boss had given me until the beginning of July to start working. So, we decided that we would wait until after the honeymoon to find an apartment.

The wedding was beautiful, and only pictures can aptly describe the flower-soaked affair. My bride was stunning and spotless, and I have to admit that I got a little choked up while I stood at the altar and watched her come down the aisle. I sang her a song that I had written for her that week, and we said our vows under a flowery arch at Morningside Baptist Church in Columbus.

For our honeymoon we flew west to Arizona to spend a week in the desert. I don't have time to describe our itinerary in detail, but I will say that we spent much of our time in Phoenix, with visits to Sedona, the Grand Canyon and a one-night stop in Winslow at La Posada, an Spanish-style railway hotel just off old Route 66.

When we returned to Georgia, the world of pine trees and obligations, we used the next week to recover from our gluttony and find an apartment in Decatur. I've now worked three weeks for GlobalAtlanta, and we're still getting settled into our nicely sized one-bedroom. We still have yet to have a single weekend in Decatur. We've been coming to Albany so that I can finish the painting job I started in the spring semester.

We've got a long way to go in more ways than one, but as a wise sage once said, I highly recommend marriage. And Katy Williams and I look forward to discovering our purpose in Decatur and the world beyond our time in Atlanta.