Monday, September 24, 2007
Kansas City welcomes Veeka
One may read this and say, "Kansas City?!" Yes, I am writing from KC, having spent the past 11 days in Seattle or LA chasing down the series I am doing on the new sanctuary movement. Those were 3 adventurous days in LA, interviewing all sorts of immigrants; each one of them a compelling story, who are on the threshold of deportation; who have lots of family here and who want to stay but who, for various reasons, are about to be thrown out of the country. Probably the most dramatic visit was our last one to Liliana, a very telegenic immigrant camping out at a church in Simi Valley, just down the road from the Ronald Reagan library. Just 8 days ago on a Sunday, about 100 Minutemen surrounded this church and tried drowning out the service by shouting on bull horns. A group of counter-demonstrators added to the noise and confusion, bringing police by the truckload to the church.
The following Wednesday when Allison-the-photographer and I pulled up to the church, we found everything in much confusion there as the local paper had that morning announced that the city was going to bill *the church* for 100s of hours of manpower (they said) were spent on defending the church from the Minutemen. You'd think they'd bill the folks who started the demonstration but no, the city blamed the church and was about to send them a bill for 40K. It's sort of like billing President Bush for police costs associated with demonstrations across the street at Lafayette Park.
So the poor pastor and several other people were tearing out their hair about this; meanwhile Allison and I finally found Liliana and had a great interview. Then it was back down the freeway to LA, a city where the drivers NEVER use turn signals, never let you in and are utter slobs - the freeways were filthy. Interspersed with my work duties, I managed to see a few friends, fortunately. All while I was down there, Oma and Opa were babysitting Miss Veeka and enjoying it, as far as I can tell. In fact, she behaved far better with them than with me. Guess it's that deep voice Opa has.
Then over the weekend came a surprise visit from Gail, a longtime Portland friend who at the last minute took the train up to see Veeka. She is pictured reading to Our Little Girl. And of course we had to take her on a Washington state ferry. Gail and I spent Saturday taking her to see a friend in Bremerton, so that's Seattle you see in the background of the window in which Veeka is sitting.
But all good times must end, so after a family gathering Sunday night, I was up at 4:20 a.m. to get Veeka and I to the airport. Fortunately there were lots of nice people who helped me with the suitcases and stroller, as I was overwhelmed. And, from the front, here's my assessment of plane rides with Veeka - ugh. It was pretty miserable. She was very noisy on the flight to Salt Lake, then dropped off to sleep just as the plane was landing! The flight to KC was far worse; she shrieked nearly the whole time and I just ran out of things to do to amuse her. I could not shut her up; so I threw a blanket over her at least to muffle the sound.
Well..I finally got here and now we are staying at a super nice hotel and she is blessedly asleep. We went out to dinner with one of my sources in the Plaza area of KC - a very decent district with cutsie Spanish/Mediterranean decor, like a poor man's West Palm Beach - and Veeka behaved most of the time until the exhaustion set in and she began to wail. Sigh...do *not* recommend taking kids on business trips. Tomorrow a babysitter will show up - for a very pricey fee - to take care of the munchkin while I cover a vigil and demonstration. Then - home!