What is the origin story of Operation Monarch?
The short version: the U.S. government shuttered in October 2013. I spent 20 days not working and knowing that, as a contractor, I would receive no compensation even if Congress decided to grant back pay for federal employees (spoiler alert: they did). The period provided the most pleasant of crucibles, an unobstructed swathe of free time to consider my future. I decided then — probably one of the mornings I sat in the sunshine on the Dupont Circle fountain — on the broad idea of an expansive road trip. 

 

Why the code name?
Life's more fun with code names. Several generations of monarch butterflies live and die each year as they migrate north with the warming weather. The last generation, born in the late summer, flies thousands of miles south to spend the winter in Mexico. These butterflies have never made this journey, yet they always find their way. 

 

Are you crazy?
No, but I am bold.

 

Where did you sleep?
Floors, couches, guest rooms, the backseat of my car, and my tent in the forests and deserts and mountains. 

 

What about those blackout dates?
Weddings. Or I was spending one-on-one time with my family. 

 

Did you drive to Alaska? Swim to Hawaii?
Sadly, no. Not yet, anyway.

 

A “life of curiosity” - what does that mean?
I aspire to the description George Bernard Shaw wrote about Lawrence of Arabia, someone who filled his life with "an adventure of epic bulk and intensity.”

 

I'm broke because college costs too much, so thanks for exploring my new city with me on a staycation.
You're welcome. I’m happy we found some spots you hadn’t discovered yet.

 

You stayed with my friend / sibling / parent! 
Thank you for introducing us. I even delivered a hug from you, with free shipping.

 

Did you write?
Lots, but this was not the birth of the next On The Road. I also made some pictures.

 

I never received a postcard. 
The deal was this: I’d trade you a postcard for your address. 

 

What happens now?
Good question. One aspect of this trip is an audition for a new city. Yet I’d be equally happy to land back in DC. I love the city, and I love the community I have established here. As for a jobs report, I’ll seek something with more writing, but I always crave a good opportunity. What I really want is work that challenges me and changes frequently.