Apologies for taking a while to post again, but I’m dealing with an RA flare-up now – my right thumb and forefinger joints are painful and swollen from yard work I did last week. I know I shouldn’t have been raking and pulling weeds, etc., but I was working for a friend who agreed to pay me to clean up his yard. As I am currently unemployed, well, I needed the money. But in retrospect I wouldn’t have done it if I had known my hand was going to flare up. I have a rheumatologist appointment tomorrow and I’m hoping he can give me a cortisone injection to make this go away. I’ve been taking 20 mg of prednisone for weeks and I’m pretty desperate to get off of it.
Anyway, onto the Summit news! I can’t stress enough how glad I am that I decided to attend The Arthritis Foundation’s Advocacy Summit in D.C. The event was incredibly organized and professional which I found impressive. It was also exciting and empowering just to be with people who were all passionate about improving the lives of those who suffer from arthritis. I met so many nice, interesting people who either have arthritis themselves or have children who have the disease. I loved talking with many of them and hearing their own stories. The Summit also ignited much more of an interest and passion in me to continue doing advocacy work. Actually, I think I would really like to move to D.C. if possible. I fell in love with the city almost immediately and could seriously see myself living there. I don’t know how difficult it would be to relocate, but I decided I’m going to try.
Day 3 of the Summit (Wednesday, April 18) was a really busy and productive day. My Minnesota group had a meeting with Representative Erik Paulsen’s office at 9:30 in the morning. I took the shuttle bus from the hotel over to Capitol Hill and met up with my group at the Cannon Building. Unfortunately Representative Paulsen wasn’t able to meet with us in person, but we met with his legislative assistant, Katie, who was really nice and seemed to be genuinely interested in what we had to say. I think we had five more meetings after that, with the legislative assistants for Senator Amy Klobuchar, Representative Keith Ellison, Representative Michele Bachmann, Representative Betty McCollum, and Representative Chip Cravaack. Senator Klobuchar and Representative Paulsen were the only two in my district, but I went along with the group to the other meetings to lend my support and voice, if possible. By the time we got back to the hotel, I was hot, tired, and sweaty (I don’t think I’ve ever sweat so much thanks to the D.C. humidity) and my ankle was killing me. But it was an awesome day and I was happy and excited to have been a part of the meetings on Capitol Hill. I also had a surprisingly fun bus ride back to the hotel. I got on board and noticed that there was only one person on the bus (well, and a lady way in the back). It was the photographer who took our group photo at Senator Franken’s office on Tuesday. I sat across from him at the front of the bus and then got up the nerve to say something to him. We wound up having a really great conversation about photography all the way back to the hotel. He told me how he got involved taking photos of the Summit for the Arthritis Foundation and about other work he was doing. I told him that I’ve been trying to get into doing photography myself and I asked him some questions and advice about the best way to go about doing that. We didn’t exchange contact info or anything, but he was really cool to talk to and he gave me some inspiration and hope regarding my own photography.
To sum up – it was a fantastic week in D.C. I loved every minute of the Summit and I’m glad I decided to stay three more nights to see some of the sights. However, two full days in D.C. is not enough time to see everything (not even close) and I was definitely not ready to come back home. I was kind of sad to leave, really. But, since I’ve been back home I’ve been trying to hold onto the energy and motivation I felt during my trip. D.C. was kind of a wake-up call, I think. It made me realize that I really do need to leave Minneapolis for a while and to make my own way in the world finally, somehow. I also realized that I want to be doing work that is meaningful and important and that I’m tired of wasting away in this rut back home – the dead-end jobs, the frustrations trying to get involved with things and people. I’m restless and I’m bored out of my mind. I want to be somewhere that’s full of life and energy and where I can use my interests and skills successfully and creatively. If that’s meant to be D.C., I’m not sure. But I don’t think it’s Minneapolis right now. In any case, I will be attending the Summit again next year. And, who knows, if I’m lucky maybe I’ll make it back to D.C. before then, too.
And – I’ve been trying to upload more of the millions of photos I took in D.C. I’m going to add different sets into a “collection” on Flickr. Here’s the updated link if you’re interested in seeing some more photos:
I hope you’re all doing well and have a wonderful week!
Thanks for reading,