Sunday, January 25, 2009

Monday, January 19th

I intended Monday, the day before inauguration, to be a day of rest. While Obama declared it a day of service, I decided to take it as a day off from service. I had both Monday and Tuesday off from work. And it only occurs to me now as I write this, that in the rest of the United States real life did not shut down for four days. Only for the couple of million people in Washington for this event did we enter this weird limbo that only inauguration mattered. Although, I was surprised by the number of DC residents not taking part in inauguration festivities. However, it was bitterly cold and crowed all weekend, and I do understand that is not everyone's idea of a fun time.

While I did not volunteer in any way shape or from, my day was still not a day of rest. I got to sleep in to a pretty good hour (which I'm not going to admit to) and then Deanna and I went and did the speediest of all grocery shopping trips. Shopping for 5 adults is never exactly quick and easy, but we got it done.

Then I went down to my congresswoman's office to pick up my tickets! Somehow, I hadn't really thought this through, and didn't realize it would be an adventure. Simply getting down there is a feat from Maryland. And since there was an 8 hour window to pick up the tickets, I hadn't even considered how many other people would be doing the same.

I took the metro to Capital South, and when I got there, there were huge lines in front of every house office building. I had to stand outside for an hour, which was not terrible. But I had not dressed to be outside for long periods of time, and this was the coldest I felt all weekend, even though it was the shortest time outside.

I only realized that I was having an adventure came when a man came out of the building and asked who in line was from Washington State. When I identified myself (yeah Walla Walla!) he then asked me if I wanted him to have my tickets sent out of if I wanted to wait to get inside and get to meet the Congresswoman, Cathy McMorris Rogers. I decided that getting to go inside was pretty exciting, so I waited.

And it was neat to get to go inside the building and meet my congresswoman. I even got to talk to her briefly and she was quite nice. The man I'd met outside took a picture of me with her with their camera. It only occurred to me on the way home that I should have asked for one with my own camera! Sorry dAd.

I went home and made dinner with my housemate Jen. It was nice to get to relax a little in our house. Then we went back to Capital South to meet Deanna and her boyfriend Joe. We had made arrangements to stay the night with a friend of Joe's who lived literally 3 blocks from where we needed to go in the morning.

So we went out for drinks at the Capital Lounge, which was not quiet by any means, but not nearly as crowded as it might have been. I think that people got scared away by some of the press about how crazy the weekend would be. The best part of this was that Jen and I had accidentally on purpose had worn matching Obama shirts. And to make it even better the shirts are grey, blue and red and I wore a blue cardigan and she wore a red one. So as we were leaving these very intoxicated women came up to me and asked were the shirts were from. They were convinced that Sheryl Crow had been wearing the same shirt at the concert on Sunday. While I had noticed she was wearing an Obama shirt, I'm not entirely convinced it was this MoveOn.Org shirt she was wearing. But I got a kick out of these drunken ladies.

After this excitement, we went back to the friends apartment to go to sleep. At this point I was mostly exhausted and ready to rest up for the big event.

Monday, January 19, 2009

From Lincoln to Obama

Yesterday my inauguration weekend got off to an official start with the kick off concert on the mall. The concert started at 2:30. We were told that the gates would open at 8 am, and that we were expecting a million people. We decided that we should leave the house at 7 am and camp out all day. However, 6 am comes a little early when you are at a party at another volunteer corps house until 1:30. So we woke up at 8, had a big breakfast and packed lunches, peanut butter sandwiches, apples and granola bars. We took the metro to Farragut and walked. I thought getting there might be awful. But the metro was not very busy and the walk was not either. We got there a little after 10, I think. We decided to go ahead and sit down the closest we could get and wait for the concert to start. We brought books and newspapers. Then we made friends with the people on blankets around us and they played word games with us. We also protected our little patch of ground from people trying to sneak in.

The wait was a little long and a little cold but not bad. I found myself wishing I were wearing maybel one more layer. The only bad part of the experience was when the first speaker appeared on stage and the crowds behind us rushed forward. We were sitting and had to jump and run to not get trampled. But we got up and managed to all stay together.

The concert was great. It was structured so that a famous person would do a reading, and then someone would sing. The readings of speeches were mostly reflections on historical events, and presidents. I liked this. It seemed like a good way to keep the past in mind as we move into the future.

The variety of performers and presenters was amazing. I got to see people I never thought I would see live, like Usher and Shakira. Singing together. This is really funny, but as a kid I loved Garth Brooks, (and still do) so getting to see him sing "Miss American Pie" and "We Shall be Free" was great. Other highlights I also loved getting to see Tom Hanks do a dramatic reading. And of course, the grand finale, Beyonce, was great.

I just asked my housemate Jen what her favorite part of the concert was and she said it was watching the crowd go wild for Obama. There were huge celebrities there and they would get some applause Tom Hanks got some cheers, so did Jack Black and Samuel L Jackson. But they showed Obama's face on the jumbotron for just seconds and he got monstrous applause every time. And that was really cool to experience. And I agree with Jen, seeing that our president creates this response is in fact spectacular.

After the concert there were huge numbers of people spilling onto the streets. I hadn't actually realized how far forward we where until we started to leave and saw thousands and thousands of people behind us. We walked to Dupont and after searching and searching for a restaurant, we ended up having Chipotle. Deanna and I went home and the others stayed out for a beer. I then went to bed and slept for 12 hours, which was wonderful.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

And here we go!

I'm back in DC after a busy few weeks. I spent two of them at home in Walla Walla with the family for Christmas. It was incredibly snowy. I got to drive the (my) little white tempo for a total of 3 days of my 14 day visit. Highlights of this visit include relatives braving the snow to come to us on Christmas Eve, making a ton of jewelry with the dAd, and seeing my little cousins.

It seems that over the last few years my big sis Carolyn has taken a liking to waking me on Christmas morning by climbing into bed with me and bouncing. So imagine my happy surprise when I was woken by the MoM with a cup of coffee and Carolyn on the phone from Vienna! I got to see some wonderful Walla Walla friends (Kate!) and unfortunately missed connections with others. I even had wonderful Thai food with the surrogate grandparents.

I came back to DC and went back to work for two days. Then got all four of my wisdom teeth yanked out of my head. This is an ordeal that I may have been a little bit of a baby about, and am still recovering from.

And all of this leads up to INAUGURATION! DC is going crazy. The housemates and I are working out our plans for the most packed four day weekend ever. Currently I think we are going to a party on Saturday, the kick off concert on Sunday ( Bruce Springstein! Beyonce!) the crazyness that will be Tuesday and an inaugural ball at Westmoreland Tuesday night. I was somehow lucky enough to get tickets to the inauguration from my representative (thank you Eastern Washington). I'm taking Deanna and she is excited enough about the inauguration for a whole city block. We can hardly contain our excitement.

I'm back at work this week. And other than a sense of excitement, the city seems to be functioning normally. It seems that the influx of people will begin in earnest tomorrow. I'm expecting to spend most of my weekend on public transportation. I hope that several more posts about inauguration will be welcome, because I'm just getting started!