Archive for January, 2013

Be Kind to Tourists

I recently moved to the Washington DC area for a job. I’ve been in town for about two months now. That’s apparently long enough to look like a local and not a tourist. I know this because I have been asked to help people around town.

The first time was helping a couple of German tourists figure out how much money to put on their metro card based on where they were going. The second time was to help someone figure out which train to take on the metro. Once I got asked for directions on the street to a Smithsonian.

Most other times have been like this. It’s probably happened about a dozen times now. I guess I just look friendly and helpful.

Anyway, last Monday was Inauguration Day. I planned on meeting a coworker to watch the parade. I figured that I would be so far back on the National Mall that going to the Inauguration itself wouldn’t be as fun. The ceremonies started at 11:30am and the parade started at 2:35pm. I got on the metro at about 10am, thinking I would get to the parade early so that I could actually see things. I was happily riding along, when a man asked me how to get from the yellow line (which we were on) to the red line. I explained which station he could transfer at and said that I was getting off at that stop and could point him in the right direction. He asked if I was going to the ceremonies and I replied that I was going to the parade. He asked why not the Inauguration itself and I explained that I would be near the Washington Monument watching a jumbotron, so I was going to the parade instead. He then asked if I would go to the Inauguration if I could be closer to the Capitol Building. I said yes. He then proceeded to explain that he was part of the Presidential Press Corps and pulled tickets out of his pocket.

Then he gave me one. Suddenly I had the opportunity to be right near the Capitol Reflecting Pool.

inauguration_ticket

We got off the train and walked to the red line, chatting on the way. As I got off a stop before him I thanked him profusely; he gave me his business card and asked that I email him my experiences during the day. I said that I would and we parted ways, since his ticket was for a closer seat.

When I got home I google searched him. His facebook appeared and the cover picture was of him shaking hands with President Obama. He writes for Pacific Times and is the President of a College in California. His name is Dr. Hong Beom Rhee is you want to look him up as well.

The next day, I was asked for directions on the metro by a different tourist. Alas, this one didn’t give me any free stuff. However, the moral of the story is to always help tourists. You never know who you might meet.

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Thinking about not thinking (Originally written July 2012)

Saturday was not a stellar day for me. If I’m honest, the past week or so has not been stellar for me. My main problem stems from the fact that I am closing a chapter in my life before I open the next one. It’s terrifying, frankly, and people constantly questioning my next chapter is not helping. For the most part, I understand everyone’s concern. I appreciate that they care about me enough to be concerned. However, I wish that they would trust that I know what I’m doing, even though I do not have a set plan. If I’m not worried about my life and future, why should they?

Anyway, to Saturday. For the most part, it was a dull, normal Saturday. I woke up, spoke to my sister on the phone, went shopping with my parents and bought my first sewing machine. We hurried home to try and swim before my parents left to go see a play that night. When we got home, though, a massive fight broke out. Like any normal family, we have our disagreements and arguments. This was a nuclear disaster by comparison. For some reason, even though I despise confrontation, I got involved as the fight escalated. Once I removed myself from the situation, even though the fight continued, I realized that I was shaking with adrenaline and crying for unknown reasons. At that point, I really did not know what to do with myself. I wanted to leave, to escape, to be away from the conflict that was causing me stress even though I was not involved.

Eventually, things calmed down somewhat and my parents went to their play. I left my Grandma home alone to go for a walk. Like everyone in Muskegon, going for a walk means that I ended up at the beach. As I got out of my car, I noticed a coal barge heading towards the channel. Now, I don’t know if you live on a lake in a port city, so I will tell you that two things bring people to the lake/channel more than others: storms and big boats. I hiked up into the dunes and trudged my way from the beach to the channel, which is no short walk. I even passed a couple making out in the dunes.

Once at the channel, I climbed over the railing and scrambled down the rocks to sit about a foot above the waterline. Then I waited. I watched people on the other side of the channel and boats as they passed my spot on the rocks. Soon enough, the coal barge came through. It was at this point that something amazing happened. I stopped thinking. I was watching the coal ship, Lewis J. Kuber, steam pass where I was sitting. I realized afterward that this was all I was doing. I wasn’t thinking about the earlier fight or stressing about my job and future.

It was wonderful.

Words cannot describe how I felt afterwards; realizing that I was existing purely in the moment. Breathing. Living. Being.

I hope it happens to me more in the future.

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