R.I.P. Lulu

One of the thousands of casualties of the earthquake was our kitten Lulu.  While it may seem insignificant compared to the human suffering that is occurring now in Haiti, Lulu was a source of solace for Jillian before I moved down, and our first pet.

She was an amazing kitten, only 5 months old, she loved to snuggle and love you, but then moments later playfully attack your leg and leave scratch marks that would remain for days.  She loved to sleep on Jillian’s laptop, and head butt you if you weren’t giving her any attention.  She loved playing with ping pong balls and pen caps, but most of all she loved to sleep in the craziest positions (and always on my side of the bed)…

On Flickr this picture was uploaded as “Day 1” just before I left to travel north before the quake.  It was supposed to be the first of years of pictures that we took of our little Princess Petunia sleeping (as I called her and Jillian hated it).  Jillian had even taken dozens of pictures of her sleeping in weird positions before I moved down which were slated to be a blog post when I got back from my trip. That camera was lost with everything else.

Every time I would talk to Jillian on the phone before I moved down to Haiti Jillian would always ask, “Guess what Lulu’s doing?”  and the answer was ALWAYS, “She’s sleeping!”  Even though I only knew her for about a week total, I miss her so much.  I don’t know what it is, I have never had such a connection with an animal.  Maybe it’s because she meant so much to Jillian, but I am crying while I write this.

After we got Jillian and Chuck out of the rubble, Jillian asked me to look for her.  She had heard her crying and digging while they were trapped.  I wanted so badly to find her for Jillian, to be able to hand Lulu to her and say everything was OK.  It would prove that there was hope, that there was life.  I made the kissing noise that she would come to all around the rubble of the house hoping to hear something, a meow, anything.  But there was nothing.  I walked back to Jillian and she looked at me with hope, “Did you find her?!” and I had to tell her “no”.  It was heartbreaking on so many levels.

But maybe this will help me to understand a little of what Jillian is going through.  I was able to connect to Lulu through Jillian even when I wasn’t there.  I understand that lost, it rips me apart in ways I can’t explain.  But for Jillian, she had connections with so much more than just this one cat.  It was with the country, with it’s people, a connection I had yet to truly make.

I can’t imagine the sorrow that pulses through Jillian during this time, it must be so hard for her.  I wish that I could understand it, but at the same time it might be a blessing that I can support her through it.  The detachment can help in that way.  If we were both messes it would be hard for us to use each other to make it through.  Maybe?

The loss of Lulu will resonate for a long time, even for the visitors to the mission house that she would terrorized with random attacks to the legs.  And now we know that she is doing the thing that she loved the very most…she’s sleeping.  I miss you Lulu.

What’s in a Name

It never occurred to me that the name of this blog would ever be anything more than a joke.  My life was pretty low key: Jillian had left for Haiti, I was working a pretty exciting job, but you could never define my situation as dire.  So when people would ask why it was called “This is an Emergency”, I would explain that it was a spur of the moment thing, and was meant to be slightly ironic.  I mean, I write posts about my brother’s soccer games and live shots with Senators.

Well, THIS is an emergency.  There is no other way to explain it.  And now the name of this blog seems to fit my life, and the situation in Haiti, in a way that I never really intended.

There are few times when a single event can define your purpose in life, and this is one of those times.  The earthquake that hit Port-au-Prince on January 12, 2010 will be an event that will define what Jillian and I do forever.  Jillian was trapped under the rubble of our house for 10 hours, I was 100 miles north of Port-au-Prince and 6 hours away.  She felt that she was going to die, I felt that I was going to lose her, therefore losing everything.  We pulled Jillian from the rubble alive, and I am the luckiest man alive.  There were so many that were not as lucky as us.

I’m going to try to dissect my feelings here and describe what happened.  It is all so vivid and yet a blur at the same time.  While Jillian and I have all the pieces to the puzzle, it’s going to take time to put them together.  We have done this puzzle before, and we know where the pieces go, it’s just that some of those pieces are here in the States, and the others have been left in Haiti.  While Jillian has healing to do here, I think there is some truth that it won’t be complete until we return.

I don’t know if the name “This is an Emergency” will remain, it almost sounds like a cliche now.  We will see.

If anyone reads this and feels the urge to donate towards the cause, Jillian and I have started a non-profit in an effort to raise funds to rebuild Haitians homes after the dust has settle and the aid agencies leave, as they surely will.  It’s called Haitian Emergency Rebuilding Operation (H.E.R.O).

Home

As you all know, I am now in Haiti.  We all knew this was coming and now it’s here, but for some reason I lost the urge to write about it over the past couple weeks.  It was one of the most tumultuous times of my life and I just wasn’t into it.  I didn’t even take pictures during that time.  Maybe that was a sign that I should have taken the time to do it, this site was a sort of therapy for me over the 5 months that Jillian and I were apart. It probably would have been good for my psychy.

But I would be lying if I didn’t say that I am freaking out a little bit.  It started on the plane to Port-au-Prince where I was thinking about what I had done: I left a plush job, benefits, fast food, family, a comfortable place to live (thanks to my awesome roommates/parents).  All that would now be gone.

That was compounded by the fact that I was FREAKING OUT about our bags getting to Haiti without being stolen or lost.  We had such an enormous amount of stuff in them that I swear I didn’t sleep the night before because I was worried about the Wii we were checking.  Not to mention there is now a rule restricting passengers to only one carry-on, and Jillian and I both had two (fragile) carry-on bags each.  We arrived in PAP, after sneaking by the the man checking those extra carry-ons in Miami, with our bags intact and everything safe.

Now that we are settled and our bags are unpacked I can move on to freaking out about what I am going to be doing here.  I’m totally clueless with the language.  I do know how to say, “Mwen pa pale Kreyol”, which means, “I do not speak Creole.”  I also started talking to Jillian about what I was going to do the next day, and we had nothing.  This was compounded by a nervousness on Jillian’s part because her organization is going through somewhat of an upheaval.  We were a mess.

But the next day began when we were woken up by my new Creole teacher.  We didn’t expect him to come, so when he did, it was a good way to start the day.  I had my first lesson which went well but I still know less Creole than many of the infants here.  I then went on a walk to the grocery store (market) to pick up some flash cards.  Let’s just say I don’t fit in.  I was the only blanc walking around and you could tell.  People would look at me with either disgust or complete surprise.  But it was good to get out of the mission house and be with the people.  When I learn more of the language I will feel a lot more comfortable doing this than I did yesterday.

We then went to Jillian’s old co-workers house for a party with ice cream and beers.  The house overlooks all of Port-au-Prince, the view was amazing, and that’s when I realized I need to be bringing my camera with me more.  But we played Pictionary where an English speaker would be pitted against a Creole speaker, and it was hilarious.  The answers had to be in Creole, and wouldn’t you know it, on the first one I guessed the right answer!

Ok, so I am running out for 10 days to go north…I will write about it when I get back.  Please bear with me, I am trying to get settled and figure out where everything goes, but once I get into a rhythm I will have plenty of posts here.  I already have some pictures to put up, trust me.

Cheers,

Your Esteemed Author

The Cutest Video Ever! (Surprised Kitty)

If you have not seen this than prepare to melt in your seat.  There is absolutely no way you can hate cats after you see this video.

Capitol Hill

Now that it’s cold outside, it’s always nice to be able to take pictures of the Capitol Building from inside.  I got another chance during a live shot from the usual Russell Rotunda.  While walking around to our live location I looked out the window and from that vantage point the Capitol Building looked huge.

The Mind of Man

So I made it to the Jefferson Memorial and this was probably the coolest picture I took there.  Inscribed around the interior wall is the following quote:

“I have sworn upon the altar of God eternal hostility against every form of tyranny over the mind of man.”

This quote is from a letter Thomas Jefferson wrote to Benjamin Rush Monticello in 1800 where he says that the constitution should not recognize a state religion.  “The mind of man.”  It just sounds so powerful, like something we should all be fighting for.

Another fun thing about this picture is that because the inscription bends downwards, it makes the top of the picture appear to bend upwards.  I swear it’s an optical illusion and not some shoddy photoshop work.

Trains in DC

I went out last week to take pictures of some monuments which I’m going to post as pictures of the day for the next couple of days.  But I didn’t realize that to get to the Jefferson Memorial you have to park about a half mile away and then walk.  On my way from my parking spot in the middle of nowhere, I walked under this bridge with train tracks on it with a train rolling by. I panickly ripped my camera out of my bag and set up my tripod so I could get a shot before the train was gone.  It turned out really cool.