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Occupying Orange County

For anyone who got this post in his or her e-mail and was confused as to why it was titled 2510, I forgot to title this one before hitting publish. WordPress came up with the number.

A commenter today asked me what it’s like to be home. Six days in, here are some basic thoughts:

I keep focusing extra for conversations I expect to occur with a language barrier. Turns out the girl working the register at Target does in fact speak English perfectly. I get myself ready to explain and clarify simple concepts, speak slower, speak louder. My first dose of this was when I got on the plane from Barcelona to London, said to the flight attendant as I got on the plane “Im in 32C” in a slow drawn-out voice and she simply responded, “Smashing.”

Speaking of Target, I find it weird I was wandering a small little dark corner market looking everywhere for a notebook in Lisbon and now I’m back to one-stop shopping under bright lights.

I’m rather happily reunited with my smart phone (Shall we finally marry my social media use? Find me on Twitter @JCDeRusso), and am knee-deep in job searching. New résumés, cover letters, updated LinkedIn, research on freelancing… You get it.

I’ve begun to harness the 6a.m. energy I still have every morning. Due to the fact I’m used to not sleeping much or all that well, I don’t need eight hours of sleep anymore. I applied to a job this morning before I poured my first cup of coffee.

Then I went and played reporter.


I’d seen Occupy Frankfurt, Amsterdam and Lisbon. It was time for Occupy Orange County.
I’d driven by it a couple times but had never pulled over. That’s another change – seeing a sunset but not being able to take a picture of it because I’m driving 50mph in the opposite direction. I rather liked walking everywhere. Picturesque spontaneous moments were much easier to capture.

Side note, I tried going to the gym a few days ago – I am afterall signed up for (power-walking) a half marathon on January 7 and felt pretty good after walking all those miles day after day. Never had a blister or sore foot in Europe, right? First time in good sneakers in four months and at the slightest treadmill incline, my ankles felt like they were going to break off. We’re going to have to figure that out. It was stressful, made more stressful by the movie star female next to me, long ponytail large chest bouncing as she ran like… a gazelle? That’s the word that comes to mind. She kicked her legs up behind her as high as they’d go. Bounce, leap, bounce, leap.

Occupy Orange County has been there for over two months. The group of guys sitting at the information table said that, as a smaller Occupy campsite, they serve more for promotional purposes of the movement than the change vehicles that are the bigger sites such as Wall Street. Occupy Orange County has 20-25 people who camp there every night, with more on weekends and some that come and go as their jobs and time allow. Occupy Los Angeles had gotten recently raided and the conversation drifted to talk of other sites. The boys were from Los Angeles, Long Beach and Irvine.

They said Irvine has asked the movement to cease all overnight camping by January 11. The boys said they could be like other Occupy sites and refuse to leave, but that Irvine has been extremely respectful of the movement in the past two months. “Conversations with the police here generally end with police asking, ‘Is there anything else we can do for you?'” Occupy Orange County will reciprocate that respect and move at the requested time. Local churches, with privately owned land and parking lots, have expressed support of the movement.

I said I’d seen a few of the Occupy sites in Europe and they asked, “Oh, so what is the news over there?” In my conversation with them, I realized how serious and organized Occupy is, and I didn’t have a good answer to that question. The truth was I hadn’t followed all that much or done enough investigating. They asked if I’d be coming back to camp out. I hedged, not staunchly against the campaign but not sure if I was ready to join this movement (or any movement, I just got my bed back), but they were a nice, well-spoken group and I’m glad I stopped by.

That said, today I remembered two fundamental rules of journalism:

Come with questions.

Bring a notebook.

Today, I received the fantastic news that Kickstarter accepted a proposal I submitted. In early 2012, I will launch a page supporting the funding of the illustration, self-publishing and promotion of two children’s books I wrote while in Europe. More to come on this…

I am extremely excited.

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One thought on “Occupying Orange County”

  1. Congrats on your Kickstarter proposal!

    Would you believe that the Occupy Fairbanks people have been camping out since the beginning of October? Through the 2 weeks of -40 weather even? There are only two tents that I see consistently set up.. It’s so strange. I’ll try to remember to take a picture for you tomorrow.

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