Tuesday, February 08, 2005


The US Embassy held a superbowl party for us--Monday afternoon, your Sunday evening. So sad, too bad--my Eagles didn't do it. I hated it!


Well, it took less than an hour in the Fulbright office and one conversation for someone to mention they know Bob G. I know they were telling the truth, the pronounced his name correctly and they admired him from his community health center leadership days. The Fulbrighters--are bright! The class is a mix of recent grads, senior scholars and several public policy fellows. It's a great group!


If you know me—you know, I love Survivor. So much so, I had applied to be on the show. And, had that dream come true—I would have been in one of the tribes from this past season--in Vanautu. Well, remember when I was back in LAX and practically standing on my head to get the human sap to run out of my tree trunk for legs? Well, I assumed a more west coast seated position in my chair and began looking over the people waiting for our boarding call. I noticed that AMI was on our flight. You’ve gotta know Ami. She should have won this past survivor series—my money was on her. She didn’t win—but she certainly seems to enjoy her semi-celebrity status. She is definitely cut out for working the crowd, and talking about the experience. I saw her again in the Customs line and we had a chance to talk. She said the amazing race was next on her list—she should win that one, too.


Is it possible that no matter where you go on planet earth, something always seems familiar? Despite this time-tested reality, my perception of how I would feel upon arriving down under was way off kilter. I “thought” I would feel upside down or at least truly on the edge of the earth, I “thought” I would feel far, really far away, I “thought” my hair may stand on end (and it is—but that’s a different story). Back to reality, there goes gravity—as it turns out, NZ feels quite normal. Hip, causal, complex, diverse. I wonder what I was thinking—I wasn’t going to the circus, I was going to an amazing country.

Off from the long flight into Auckland at 6 AM NZ time I was greeted by the universal symbol and smell of a good morning—an open café and the scent of good, hot coffee. A “flat white” will be my standard order—hot strong coffee with hot, hot cream. I’m going to love New Zealand, in fact, how could it get any better than this. I must admit, 14 hours on the plane has made for an attitude adjustment. Sitting in LAX after already an entire day of travel, I began to question my judgment—why did I have to pick such a far away place? I should have chosen South Carolina—some people think it’s equivalent to another country and it certainly is closer. How could I not have chosen Ireland—those are my people, it’s only one ocean away and I’m sure its airport is less complicated than the tram at DFW. Good ole, DFW, the gateway to almost anything north, south, east or west from RDU. So there I was, at the international terminal in Los Angles feeling tired, questioning my choices, and right before my eyes my legs were swelling to moderate size fence posts. I reversed my position in my chair by lying on the floor with my legs elevated on my chair seat—I thought this was both brilliant and therapeutic—but by the looks I got, this was anything but “LA”. Couldn’t they see—I was in Cally-FORN-ya and stumps from the sequoia forest had replaced my lower limbs…seriously, if there was an immediate need for toothpicks throughout the airport, I could have become a freestanding kiosk. Bring me demand because I have supply.

Peggy from the Fulbright office picked me up. She is a great lady. We went out to her beautiful home high up in the mountain over Wellington. Peggy and her husband Bill recently declared citizenship in NZ. They don't miss US politics and in fact there are a lot of opinions about our politics and policies in NZ.

I was able to stay up most of the day and final gave into the need to sleep at 7 PM. Fulbright program kicks off tomorrow and so do my Philadelphia Eagles.

Fly Eagles, fly!


24 hours—Friday through Sunday

It isn’t easy getting here, but it’s worth the ride once you make it. New Zealand is--VERYcool. Math takes on a whole new meaning when 1=3--Dan Glaser may like this return on investment, perhaps we can set up an outpost of the Foundation down here. This is no riddle, it’s the truth—you get on a plane in Raleigh around noon on a Friday, fly 24 hours and end up landing three days later. The crossing of the International Date Line drives this phenomenon—where one second it’s today and the next second it’s tomorrow…or rather, today, again.

Realizing this, I was trying to think if I’d ever lost a day before. Not growing up, not even in college, but probably five years ago when I fell. I definitely lost a day when I fell. This only goes to prove, flying is better than falling.