Thursday, June 23, 2005

America the Beautiful

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I'm back from a lovely trip to our nation's capital :) Wow. What an experience! I was only there for two days. Four fellows (including myself) were selected to go for Save the Children Advocacy Day. On the first night, we attended the welcome reception, and afterwards, we spent a night out on the town. We had dinner at a Japanese restaurant, scoured the shelves of a trendy used book store, and were sexually harassed by the proprietors of an ice cream shop.

On the second day, we were divided into groups and attended workshops and sessions to learn about our issues (all were about education) as well as advocacy in general. We went to lunch in the Senate Office Building, and as my group walked through the hallway, we saw Barack Obama. I nearly fainted. He turned around and looked at us and the woman I was with gave him a thumbs up and said, "Well done." He smiled. Later, during lunch, I heard people at our table talking about having gotten a glimpse of him or having missed seeing him, and someone called him the "movie star of the Senators." That's pretty accurate. Mark Shriver was also there - he sat at my table in the morning session and smiled over at me - and Mother got a kick out of that when I told her (I knew she would).

My group met with a congressman and two senators and it was such an incredible experience. I didn't do much talking because I was the passion while others covered the background and the ground work. But I observed and learned so much and was completely blown away by it. Besides, Save the Children is an incredible organization and if you can ever to do anything to help them out, you will not regret it.

While traveling home, the fellows and I found ourselves in another unpleasant scenario. We sat, reading and writing and wearing headphones, yet for some reason a couple of inebriated, 30-something, married Republican males decided to crash our party. One sat with Fellow #5 a couple of rows away from us, and another climbed in between the remaining three of us. He talked incessantly even when we nodded and gave one-word responses and resumed reading. Finally we began talking to him just because we were left with no choice. He made reference to his wife and kids, yet he found it appropriate to touch Fellow #6's knee when he laughed and joke to me that he was supposed to visit my area recently and he could have stayed with me. By the end of the trip, Fellow #7 had got into a heated debate with him over local politics. Truly memorable.

Mind you, this was nothing compared to the ice cream shop fiasco. Let's just say there was sexual innuendo flying and the older gentleman continually calling us "cutie" and "sweetie" and telling me to give him a kiss. We were technically only in the city for a little over a day - one afternoon to the next - and we had to deal with this? It forces me to stop a moment and reflect. Why must we be subjected to this? You get used to it after a while, but why should you? Men do not have to deal with going into a store and being sexually degraded. I'm not saying that it doesn't happen, but it is rare in comparison with the number of times women face this. It makes me sick.

And they wonder why we become lesbians. (I may not be one but I can certainly see the logic behind it!)

On that note, let's see if I can find anything spiritual to mention. Hmm. I am nearly done with Killing the Buddha, which is phenomenal, and I will definitely post about it when I finish. While we were out and about D.C., we passed a Scientology church (are they called churches?) and when we paused to look in, a man gestured for us to enter. The other fellows were freaked out and didn't want to, which was too bad, because I really wanted to. But it's best to stick together in a strange city at night.


musafir said...

Essayist Ann Taylor Fleming appears as a guest commentator on the Newshour (PBS). She covered the current obsession of Americans with and against sex in her Feb.1,2005, piece "One Weird Country" .


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