Friday, December 12, 2014

Holiday Party at the White House

Me giving side-eye to GW
This is me and George Washington. The picture was taken yesterday, 12/11, when we visited the White House for a holiday party.

It was a lovely party. Lots of food and drink. I got to see the president make a few jokes (take the paper napkins, don't take the cloth napkins, don't break anything because only two years left on the lease), I didn't make it to the front of the rope line to shake hands or anything, and I got to have a night with my wife in DC without the kids. For the first time in about five years, we hired an overnight babysitter.

I went, well, because hello, White House! But I really went because I had the chance to meet activists both in the non-profit world and the federal government. I am a lousy activist, at least in the conventional sense. I am not an organizer of face-to-face or online campaigns. I am not a policy writer. There are many things that I am not.

I am a writer. I have, through lots of luck and hard work, carved out some access to major media and hopefully said some useful things about disability, in particular. But none of this matters without the people doing the work in the communities, often less visibly, and I was grateful for the chance to meet them. Also, it was surreal. A few years ago I was a pretty good medieval historian at a small university, mostly unknown even in my own field. Yesterday, my wife and I went to the White House. I hope you'll forgive me for taking a moment to be happy in public and to share my happiness with you.

Thank you for reading.
Thank you for pushing me, sending me stories, and telling me when I inevitably make mistakes.

And now, I'm getting back to work.

I am 2300 words into my book proposal. I hope to be able to tell you more in a few days.

3 comments:

Danielle M. said...

Thanks for taking us along for the ride!

Geri Sullivan said...

Whoohoo! Any party you're at is a better party for your presence. I'm very happy you had the opportunity to attend this one! And to meet the activists gathered for it.

Plus, oh yeah, DC with your wife and an overnight babysitter for the kids. Excellent news all around.

Geri Sullivan said...

P.S. Speaking of George Washington, during the Revolutionary War, he commuted a soldier's death sentence in Ephraim B. Squier's unit when they were 2-3 days out of Cambridge on its march to Montreal. (Ephraim B. Squier being in my family tree however many generations back.) Ephraim B. wrote about it in his diary, which is in the Library of Congress Reading Room, just a few blocks from where you had your picture taken w/George's last night. Like so many others on the march, the soldier got drunk. Unlike others, he killed a fellow soldier in drunken anger. They courtmartialed him the next day, but word came down that General Washington wanted to review the case in person, so they postponed the hanging for a few hours. Washington ordered the soldier back to Cambridge in shackles instead of going ahead and having him hung.