Category Archives: This is an Emergency

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).

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.

Back in Business

Hahaha, Hi!

So I’ve been MIA for the last week or two and I apologize.  It’s been a pretty draining couple of weeks, both mentally and physically, and when I would go to write a post or process pictures I would just fall asleep.  I’ve been yelled at over and over again for taking naps that start after 7pm (they seem like a good idea at the time).

But I swear I am not depressed (as my Mom thought) or dead (no one thought that), it’s just been a busy time.  And now that my imminent departure is quickly approaching, I am trying to tie up loose ends. 

I had big ideas for a post on November 19th because a month from that day Jillian would be returning to the United States for Christmas.  When that passed I had HUGE plans for a post on December 2nd because a month from that day Jillian and I will be on a plane on our way to Haiti.  But they all passed, and now I have no record of those dates ever happening, so I have now forgotten them all.

But this all began with the White House Crashers, and as the old Chinese proverb said, “The White House Crashers ruin everything.”  Last week started with a call on Sunday night asking if I could be out in front of their house the next morning.  The idea was to have a shot live between 6-9am in case they came out to talk.  That meant leaving for work at 4am.  I don’t hate many people, but the crashers are creeping up to the top of the list.

That’s their house, and that’s their limo, and that’s our camera pointed at their vacant house and empty limo.  One producer in NY asked over the phone why, if they had so much money, they weren’t spending any of it on landscaping?  Good question.  But there we were giving them exactly what they wanted, more attention.

The next day I was the pool producer for an interview with Vice President Biden.  What that means is that I arranged the logistics for all the major networks to interview Biden with our camera.  What that also means is that I had to leave for work this time at 3:30am.  We then turned a library at the Naval Observatory grounds from THIS:

TO THIS:

Other than one of Biden’s top aides farting loudly during one of the interviews, the morning went really well.  And no, there is nothing I can do to make Biden not look like a California Raisin (…Andy). 

Thursday meant a live shot with Admiral Mike Mullen, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.  I walked into the Pentagon and met two women who both told me my Father had hired them.  “Then why aren’t you giving me more interviews!” I wanted to scream at them.  “You owe me this!” .  If only I could say that my Dad could fire them too.

At the end of that day my Dad, Tammy, and I jumped on a plane for Jacksonville, FL to celebrate my Dad’s 50th by hitting some golf balls into the water at TPC Sawgrass.   It was a great cap to a crazy week that I’ll post on later. 

So there it is, photographic proof that I wasn’t just slacking on the blog just to slack.  Jillian will be here in 11 days, I will be leaving my job in 15 days, and we move down to Haiti together in 25 days.  It’s all coming just as fast as everyone was warning me it would, but for some reason it’s caught me off guard.  Expect more panicked posts soon.

(Not Quite) Crashing the White House State Dinner

Today is Thanksgiving Day, a day in which we look back at things that we are thankful for.  I am thankful for Jillian, my Family, and peanut butter ice cream.  One thing I can assure you that I am not thankful for is the couple that brazenly crashed the Obama’s first State Dinner on Tuesday

The two aspiring reality stars walked to the White House gates acting shocked that they were not on the guest list, and in the craziness of the evening, they were let in to the most exclusive party in DC.  They are now the only people EVER to have crashed a White House State Dinner.  They even posted pictures on their Facebook:

I’m relatively speechless here.  On one end you have to admit that they have the biggest balls in DC just strolling into the White House and taking pictures like they belong there.  On the other end you have to think about how sad it is that this older couple (that’s probably old enough to have a kid my age) thought it would still be cool to do something like this.

But the reason why I’m not thankful for them this Thanksgiving Day is because they were the only thing stopping me from a peaceful, turkey-induced coma.  I was working today, and there is NOTHING else going on in DC this holiday weekend, but their stunt has created a media frenzy whose ground zero was my cubicle.

I was sent to their house in Front Royal, VA in an attempt to reach them to figure out who the hell they were.  They live in the country about an hour from DC on roads that even the GPS can’t find.  We rolled up and parked in the driveway, next to a single white limo.  Inside the doorway there was a picture of the two of them with Jerry Sienfeld.    Peering inside these people’s house was exactly how I imagined spending my Thanksgiving.

After talking to their neighbors it turned out they were relatively scetchy people in general.  One neighbor even claimed that debt collectors and repo men frequented their house, another neighbor mentioned how police had been asking about them recently. So I returned the tape to civilization in time to celebrate Thanksgiving Dinner with my Dad and Stepmom…crisis averted.

But the real reason why I started writing about this in the first place is because I was (legally) given a glimpse at what the State Dinner would actually be like.  Tasked with attending the First Ladies’ preview on Tuesday, I was given an opportunity to see how I could wine and dine if I had donated tens of thousands of dollars to the Obama Campaign:

I was pretty excited.  As we walked into the front door of the White  House (That’s right! The front door that I always thought would be fun to knock on), I had the strange feeling that I was not really suppose to be there.  It was probably around the same feeling the crashers had later that night.

The press filed into the State Dining Room and I grabbed my camera, ready to attack.  I looked to my left and a Reuters photographer gave a long sigh and said, “Man, this sucks.”  I, not understanding why he would not be excited about being in the White House and seeing the First Lady, responded, “I guess…I mean, it could be so much worse.  It’s kinda cool!”  He turned to me and just said, “No, this sucks.”

So after getting over the curmungeonous of the White House Press Corp, the event began and the First Lady strolled in.  While snapping photos I had this nagging feeling that someone from the White House was going to figure out who I was and ask me to put my camera away.  Not only that but I took this picture and was immediately like, “Oh crap, she saw me!”

But it turns out other reporters were taking pictures with cameras that screamed spectator.  Point-and-shoots galor.  I was safe.

The event was quick and painless, a lesson on the history of State Dinners and what we could expect that night.  Even if I was 20 feet away, it was a little bit of history, and seeing the State Dinning Room was a memory I will not soon forget. 

So we were escorted out of the room as the First Lady tasted desert selections for the night with girls that she mentors from the DC area.   And as I walked out I gave a little knock on the door, something I had wanted to do since I was little, ending a pretty sweet trip to the White House (that I was actually invited too).

Happy Thanksgiving!