Jose Moreno: Blogs

Week Seven: Reflect on CHCI Experience

Jose Moreno

In a kayak, I learned how to live life. Maybe I should take a few steps back first; a few days ago, I decided to go kayaking for the first time in my life. The Potomac River was a soft greenish blue running between the trees of wilderness and the urban centennials with a majestic gothic bridge connecting the two worlds; perfect weather. I was amongst the trees when it began to rain; I pushed off the shore with my kayak and headed for civilization when the drizzle of rain transforms into a torrential downpour. Within moments, I was fighting for my life to keep my kayak afloat as the waves in the river gathered strength, the water kept pouring in, and the rain restricted my vision; I can't swim. In what I thought would be my last moments of life, my life flashed before my eyes, the images of my family and friends were the last thoughts I would have; I looked up to the sky, looked down into the murky water and thought "Well Jose Ricardo, we are not going down that easily." I gripped my oar with all my strength and miraculously made it to a water barrier near the shore. I jumped out of the kayak into the water barrier, pulled my kayak full of water over the water barrier and found myself in a closed construction site. I walked through the flooded site to an eight-foot fence and threw my kayak over then jumped over, leaving minor cuts running the length of my legs. I walked about the length of a football field with my kayak back to the kayak shed; I'm not a strong guy yet with each movement I channeled all my strength in order to survive. My friends, distraught from my extended absence, hugged me; I could feel the love. Life is comprised of people and love; I would do whatever possible to have both and I'm lucky that I have both. While learning congressional rules and procedure is educational, the real experience is made with people; the hustle and bustle with the members and running around the city with the interns, trying to make our own marks; my office has grown on me and I will miss them dearly.

 

Week Five: Coalition Building

Jose Moreno

I have celebrated of all of my nineteen birthdays… and my fifth birthday twice. I can vaguely recall my actual fifth birthday; the essentials were there: a cake, family, friends y una piñata. At that age, my friends were just the kids that I knew from school and my entire world was my backyard. Fast forward, I’m on Capitol Hill working on data entry while trying to muffle vibrating cell phone. Today my office continued in the same way as always, I walk to my desk and pile through stacks of forms. It’s my nineteenth birthday and the flow of constant text messages and calls coming in to wish me happy birthday have filled my answering system; it’s only 10 am. It’s just another day. As I’m finishing my last pile of form letters, I’m summoned to the member’s office. No one is in the office and I start to become concerned. As I step into the office, I see a birthday cake and my office screams “Happy Birthday!” Most of the office refer to it as my fifth birthday; my fifth birthday, celebrated twice in my life; once as a child, now in DC, my friends sending me countless messages, congratulating me on the fact that I’ve managed to keep myself alive this long; my parents wishing me the best on this day. If that’s not coalition building, I don’t know what is.

Week Five: Giving Back to Our Community

Jose Moreno

…And the blue foam was everywhere. The day was a record high; the sun blaring through the empty window clearing and I, sitting inside the half built house with a blunt construction knife, was poking holes in the foam. It was very stubborn material; my knife, leaving only a faint impression, failed me and I reached for a blunt metal scrap; the foam was winning. As the sweat poured, I became frustrated and, at that moment, I wanted to stab the foam until it succumbed. In retrospect, the foam didn’t matter; my part in the construction of this house didn’t matter; what mattered was that I was giving a stranger a hand in the same way people in my life have offered their hands. I was not building a house; machines can build houses, but a home for a family to grow together in and in a couple of weeks when the house is presented, the family will make it their home. As I walk through my house, memories of birthdays, family dinners, and holidays come flooding and the four walls that surround me transform into my home. In this house, I’ll always remember the blue foam.

Week Four: The Voices of the American People

Jose Moreno

Picture it, the grandeur of a congressional reception: the crystal chandeliers complementing the regal gold engravings reminiscent of the Greco-Roman tradition. A table, standing in the middle of the room, dressed in a white cloak with lace trim, displays a banquet of filet mignon and selections of red wines; at the very end of the table, the desserts: raisin cookies. Raisins: the dry cast of once plump, juicy grapes; yield to an easy pinch. In the unspoken hierarchy of cookies, the raisin cookie isn’t in the same league as the beloved chocolate chip. The raisin treads silently, providing what comfort it can. Throughout the Capitol, I come across the portraits of the past; great men and women have carved their names into the walls of Congress to better shape our nation and I… well I am an infinitesimal speck without garnish. In the elegance of the reception, the raisin will be forgotten. In my hand, I hold the raisin cookie with a sense of curiosity; today we’ll give the moment to the raisin cookie.

Week Three: Highlights of the Hill

Jose Moreno

Plastic bags from “The Supply Store” are made out of polyethylene; they stretch and accommodate large loads. Today’s load: one hundred note pads, one hundred heavy note pads. I winced at the idea of carrying everything back to the office. Each hand anxiously grasped its own plastic bag containing fifty note pads. Under other circumstances, I would have liked to pass the task on to another person, but my office trusted the job to me. My job was to transport the pads to the office without grief. While it may seem to be mundane labor, I see these tasks like small brushstrokes of a larger portrait. One of these note pads will reach someone in a meeting, and they will have an idea and write it down. This idea could lead to a revolution of agricultural production, change the way doctors and scientist confront cancer, or pave the way to energy independence. Yet before anything happens, the foundation must be laid. I have to be just like the plastic bags, willing to stretch and bend to accommodate my load. Some how the load just got heavier.

Week One: First Week in Washington, DC

Jose Moreno

I like to draw squiggly lines; lines that blend and criss-cross. With each stroke, they manifest into a thought or an emotion that creates a better sense of the world. The transition from my thoughts, to my hands, to a sheet of paper establishes an organic order expressing my individuality. A circle is a line that has no beginning or end. It represents a union of infinite points that come together as one form. This past week I encountered a magic circle. Picture it: The majestic hills of Maryland, one small road leading me out of civilization and immersing me in the branches of nature. I’m standing in a circle with the rest of the interns and I’m pulling on a rope that is carving into the palm of my hand. At the same time, I can see the rest of the interns; pulling on the same rope, the same expression of anguish, pain, and exhaustion paints their faces, as we try to tighten a sailors knot along the rope. Afterwards, I held that knot that we created and envisioned the struggles that each of us have faced and will face as we continue along our own paths. We each pulled in our own direction, with only the knot to connect us; yet that tie, that knot is our own manifestation. The knot being a bundle of squiggly lines, criss-crossing, no longer representing my own individuality, but the communion of our efforts converging into a greater work of art.

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