the concert

ray on stage
Originally uploaded by faithful nomad.

today started off slowly, everyone slept in so the guys could be well-rested for their evening gig. laura and i went down for breakfast and met up with matt, steve, and brad. after some grub, the entire group met upstairs in a conference room where we had a prayer meeting. it was really nice; i love listening to people pray. then we went over to the venue to get things going.

the concert was really a youth rally organized by Global Connections. there were three speakers and two bands that went on before our guys. Brad, Matt, Steve, and Ray closed the show and it was fantastic. about a thousand kids showed up, everyone was on their feet for most of it. and Global Connections is great because they want to start doing these rallies all through Central America.

the day was a rambling spanglish progression of digital pictures and laughing kids of all ages. we were there until close to 11pm and then things closed down really quickly. we loaded up the gear into the cars and caravan-ed it over to Pizza Hut if you can believe that. our entourage had grown from about a dozen to nearly twice that, but the Hut handled us well. we were there for a while, it was ray, matt, and steve's last night, so we lingered a bit and i managed to get a good conversation in with Pedro about Che and Cuban politics.

back at the hotel we exchanged some goodbyes. i'm such a fan of these guys. matt and steve had never really heard of me before i introduced myself, and i only knew their names, but they were so absolutely gracious and sweet. and ray's awesome. he's just a great guy to be around. the boys went home early sunday morning...

dinner in Managua

dinner in Managua
Originally uploaded by faithful nomad.

took a photo on the sly of our dinner table


McDonalds is the same anywhere. really.

path to the pool
Originally uploaded by faithful nomad.

today was a journey, like all new and shiny new, like i have to remember that i don't speak a lick of spanish and am meeting new people both local and from my country and trying to make a good impression and be helpful and smile and just be cool. i think i pulled it off :)

we had breakfast at the hotel. let me take a second and say - all the Semester at Sea kids will agree with me here - fruit in other countries makes our stuff taste like sawdust. this pinapple was like flavored water. anyway, breakfast, then off on our way by 8am. we all accompanied brad and ray to a TV interview. it was so interesting, they use so much less equipment than we do! it was a talk show, basically five people having a conversation, then they interviewed Auturo, Greg, and Cameron, then Brad and Ray played three songs.

afterwards, Laura and i went to Auturo's home, where he'd brought together about twenty local kids. we stuffed CD envelopes to hand out at the concert, and then hung out with Auturo's extended family. my non-spanish-speaking was kind of a spectacle, kids would try to speak to me and honestly, i just didn't get anything at first. i kept laughing and shrugging sheepsishly, i felt a little ashamed, but mostly frustrated with myself. i wanted to express something like "i love it here and i would laugh at your jokes and ask you about your life," but that's pretty difficult to pantamime. the people were just lovely and we had a great time.

we got picked up by Greg and swung by McDonald's for lunch, oddly enough, and went over to the venue to watch the band rehearse. after spending a couple hours there, the girls hit the pool and the boys took a trip to the barrios (sp?), which intensely effected them. that area is south-african-townships, indian-untouchable-villages poor. the kind of life where it scares you and angers you that people live this way, and it's in every nation. we all know about the ONE campagin, yeah?

we met up again later and went to a local restaurant for dinner. the owner of the restaurant served us himself, and his three year old daughter came out to see what the commotion was all about. she was a beauty, very shy and sweet. dinner was some good food, and we had a new guest to share our meal: a pastor from Miami named Pedro, who was Cuban-born and very cool.

after dinner, back to the Holiday Inn and back to my bed. our hotel is absolutely beautiful. the photo above is the path to the pool.


arriving in Managua

view from the 6th floor
Originally uploaded by faithful nomad.

three planes in one day. sheesh. and seriously, the Miami airport is under miles of construction and there are signs that say "your destination: ten minutes," and then they give you updates. eight minutes. six minutes. two minutes until i meet Laura at the gate. i don't want to run, i have time to walk so i don't arrive flushed and messy. so finally i get to gate C9 and Laura arrives a few minutes later.

the planes were fine. three is a lot, but they were only about 2/3 full with it being a thursday afternoon. we got into Managua around 9 local time - they're on mountain time i think? so no big time shift, thankfully. Brad had sent someone to get us, and this was so great - this guy took our passports and LEFT. but only for a second, turns out he went to the front of the customs line and so we were able to skip the entire thing. we just went straight to bag check, then went outside. the other band members were there - ray, steve, and matt. i've met ray before, but steve and matt hadn't toured with brad so this was my introduction. they were both great guys, with an easy laugh and deadpan dry humor. we piled ourselves and the massive gear into two cars and went to the Holiday Inn Select to meet everyone else.

brad and his parents met us in the hotel lobby. for those of you who don't know, i don't really go way back with these people so i was pretty nervous. basically, last november brad came through chicago and i wrote him a very random email, like hi, i've been a fan for a long time, i see you're playing on a sunday night, if you have nothing else to do you're welcome to come to church sunday morning, bring anyone, my church rocks. and he said sure, and i fell off my chair.

we end up hanging out and having a ton of random stuff in common. we've both traveled a lot, love God, and have a habit of walking straight out of comfort zones. it's so amazing to meet him and these other people, who just pick up and go fearlessly forward. so anyway, we hung out again when he was back in chicago last march, so really i've only spent time with brad and laura twice. so i was understandably nervous at this initial meeting, in my mind i'm asking "you really meant it when you invited me, right? you expected me to say yes? this isn't me tagging along like a little wierdo?" and the first thing he says is how glad he is that i'm here and how cool it is that an email and some coffee led to central america.

everyone was pretty tired, so from these happy greetings we all went to dinner at the hotel restaurant and traded travel stories until laura and i excused ourselves and we headed off to go to sleep. i think i gave an incomplete impression a moment ago - laura and i have met in person only twice, but have talked on the phone probably 3-4 times a week since last november. i did some little design stuff for them, so she and i are pretty comfortable with each other. but everyone else is fairly new :)

the crew includes me, laura, brad, jonothan (film student), matt, steve, brad's parents, greg, cameron, and auturo (local pastor). greg and cameron both work in humanitarian efforts and were setting up the concert the boys are going to play on saturday. we're very excited.


a bag of clothes and a bag of toys

i feel like i'm starting this "journal" so slowly, but as soon as things really begin, man, i'll be rocket-propelled. like Wile E. Coyote.

but before that, i'm going to Nicaragua. TOMORROW. MORNING. i'd like to dedicate this moment to the fine people at Constructive Playthings, who actually sell jump ropes for eighty-nine cents each. i was so excited that i called laura in the middle of the store to tell her about it.

the importance of the jump ropes is this: we're going to be in Managua from thursday to sunday, then heading to an orphanage from monday to thursday. so i'm looking forward to the kids at security when i heave this bag up on the conveyor belt that's filled with jump ropes, harmonicas, slide whistles, stickers, bubbles, and superballs. they'll be like "can you remove your shoes please?" and i'll be thinking, "yes, superballs are an obvious threat to national security."

oh man. now i'm paranoid that they won't let this stuff on the plane. i mean, seriouly, don't you remember grade school? you can do some damage if you flick that plastic jump rope handle like it's a wet towel. give someone a nasty welt. anyway. i woke up early to re-pack, i'm so glad i remembered my passport :) and just now i got back from my exiting interview with Epstein. now i'm counting the minutes, watching my clock tick. tick. tick.


we're all so young

have we all become aware of the ONE campaign? i'm very into the unfettered, black-and-whiteness of it. beautiful except for their nasty please-take-one website banners. but is anyone else angry that it took so long and so many celebrities? like, way to go, kids, it's about time. there are THIRTY NINE celebrities in under two minutes (i counted, you can see the video on the site). why are we people who need cooler people telling us what to do? why are we not people who see these needs and migrate toward need automatically? i'm down with what's being done, but why not ten years ago? why not for the 9-11 cleanup? why not for the Oklahoma bombing? why not in the 1976 Soweto student uprisings? why not when 20% of Cambodia was slaughtered between 1974 and 1979? i'm so, so excited that this is beginning, but if it fades out, some actors and i are going to have words. i'm glad to see a national sense of responsibility forming.

i think i'm getting a pack of the white bands. let me know if you want one. they come in ten packs, and i'll only need one and a spare, so first come first serve on the other eight. sorry for the rant, they were talking about Mandela's release from Robben Island last night on NPR and i have this deep feeling of how recent things are, how apartheid only ended fewer than thirty years ago.

in other, lighter news, i officially have packed for the summer... so everything NOT in those two bags gets to go into my generous parents garage. and right this second i'm so panicked that i'm taking a break to write. that whole beginning was a tangent, if you can believe that. i should probably get back to packing.

parting thought: it's snowing outside. thought it should be acknowledged!


the first of what's likely to be many such things

(deep breath) everything is still going well. this weekend i'll be packing, lifting, packing, driving, packing. i have to get a bag together for Nicaragua, then Ohio, then, you know, the rest of my life that i can carry with me. i'll post a few pictures later, when i'm up to my ears in things i realize i don't need, which i'll only realize when they require carrying the object down three flights of narrow homemade stairs. Gardner's Art Through the Ages just doesn't seem so important when it means i can't carry much else down at the same time.

but i've made my first mistake - to everyone who got the mass email this morning, i'm SO SORRY i didn't use the blind carbon copy thing instead of just sending it. i meant to, honest. i didn't mean to send you an email with fifty people on the list. every time i drafted that email i tried to read it from a different point of view: how would my nana read it? how would my co-worker read it? how would i read it? and then i went and ruined the make-you-feel-like-i-think-you're-special effect by making you feel like you're a name on the list.

sorry about that. you are special. that's why you got the email. except for about a dozen of my friends who didn't tell me they changed emails and now they get to miss out on all the fun. how very unfortunate for them. but they're special too.


even support from Epstein

A. Epstein and Sons Int'l, Inc.
Originally uploaded by faithful nomad.

today i've started telling some people here at work about the job change. i was kind of dreading this, worried that people would be annoyed or angry (i'm leaving mid-project on a couple things), but everything's good. i still have to tell a woman in Human Resources, but she's out till 4. so today is odd but good. everyone is really excited for me, which does a lot more for me than i think they realize.

it's so funny how seldom people are made aware of the impact they have on other people, which makes me value pointing it out. i told two of my friends here (who i adore) that their encouragement has made working at Epstein better for me, and it's true. i really have a great time here. art directors can make or break a job sometimes, so to see them be excited for me makes everything better :) it's seriously tough to leave and not hesistate and say to people "i'm leaving a perfectly good job in downtown Chicago to pursue this other equally fascinating project."


support from the parents

[insert sigh of relief]
today i sat down with my parents and hashed out everything: their fears, my budget, my fears, my excitement, the possibilites. they really made this move less risky and more fun, which is incredible. i was expecting a certain amount of opposition, but instead got nothing but careful planning and support. then dad grilled out and the three of us had dinner, sharing and bonding over the excitement.


full support from Tchaikovsky

i forgot my iTunes were on play instead of pause, which means it's been playing all day. While i was emailing someone about this summer's plans i put on my headphones, expecting to start up some Soul Coughing.

instead it's Tchaikovsky's wedding song, the one from the commericals where women pick up a thing of yogurt and suddenly they realize what a divine experience it is to eat yoplait and the violins pick up and the sun streams through the kitchen window as she picks up a spoon and enjoys the blissful second before she trancends through yogurt. If you know what song I'm talking about, you're smiling.

isn't this more than mildly ironic? while emailing about working for the Elias Fund, i get the violins. LOVE it. today is the first day where i'm really letting this become real to me, and i love it.


i didn't suspect a thing at first

shane: tell me about your job. do you work full time?
lisa: yeah, i do have an 8 to 5. my job's pretty cool. but i'm just that into dispatch and elias, i'm willing to put in another couple hours after a ten hour day or what have you. those five things i sent you yesterday? i did them all saturday, in one day, start to finish.
shane: huh... that's crazy.
lisa: i know that if i could do this all the time, i'd be prolific. i could just create and create for you because when i understand a project, it can just flow. once an idea gets going, it's easy to expand it if it's strong enough, and i think this elias look is strong enough.
shane: well, let's keep talking about this summer.

(we end up hatching a master plan)
how it will begin:
4.18 give two weeks notice at A. Epstein and Sons International, Inc
4.28 go to Nicaragua for a week with the Braddigan kids
5.05 return to Chicago only to switch overnight bags and crash
5.06 go to Miami Univ. of Ohio for sister Jenna's graduation
5.08 back to Chicago; take a nap; catch up on emails and bills
5.09 begin packing for the summer & moving boxes to parent's house
5.13 wrap it up, time to go; prepare mentally for what's coming
5.15 fly to Los Angeles; meet Shane in person; settle in for two weeks
5.16 work for Elias Fund on the IDM grant until it's D-O-N-E
5.28 move to Boston with Shane, prepare The House for the interns
6.01 housemates begin to arrive; prepare for the mayhem
6.10 back to Chicago for Andi and Johnny's wedding
6.12 back to Boston; movie promotions are up and running
7.01 still in Boston; movie is released this month!
8.01 to Chicago to promote flick some more; reassess future
9.01 after Chicago: choose my own adventure