(For those looking for captions to the pictures I sent out, please scroll down to the blog about the Pre-Inaugural Brunch with Congresswoman Jane Harmon - that's where they are.)
I've had real mixed emotions about everything since coming home to LA and it's taken me a couple of days to process my feelings over what I experienced and witnessed while in DC for the Inauguration. At first I really hated being home and hated everything about CA - the vapidity, the lack of public transportation, the familiarity, the regularity of life, the same 'ole, same 'ole seemingly of everything.
It was all I could do to not jump on another flight back to be around politically minded people who were doing something for our country again. However, once I had caught up on my sleep, talked to a couple of select friends, and realized these feelings were typical of anyone who had experienced such a life-changing event as I had, then I settled down.
Still doesn't mean I don't have the desire to go back to DC asap, but at least now I don't hate everything about the South Bay and CA any more. Sorry, but it was true. You can only take so much beach bum mentality for so long. Or the same familial patterns that never seem to change.
That said, I met some great people from the South Bay while visiting back east and they give me hope that there are signs of intelligent life in this area. LOL Who knew I had to fly all the way back east?
Okay, enough of that topic though.
Picking up where I last left off on my DC Adventure... After returning home from a disappointing excursion to the Kennedy Center to see if I could collect any of the free tickets for the Aretha Franklin concert later that night only to learn they had passed out vouchers to all the people who had shown up at 7:30am rather than wait till 4pm like they announced, I was jonsing to go out and be with people.
I tried reaching out to a few people to see if they were hitting any parties, but most were in for the night since the inauguration was the next day, or didn't return my calls/texts. Jeannette, my new DC friend and house-mate, understood my frustration and assured me that if she was only a few years younger and not so exhausted she would definitely have gone out with me to see what kind of trouble we could stir up.
We compromised and went to dinner at our local favorite restaurant, Cafe 1612, and caught up on CNN. The funny thing about the woman we were renting from is that she didn't believe in cable saying she was out too much to bother and all her appliances, TV's etc were from the early 70's or so. It was almost like stepping back in time.
Jeannette was almost beside herself without the news and we were happy to enjoy the bar atmosphere while I tried to blog a bit. It always takes me much longer than people realize to write anything of meaning and I was only able to share half my experience. No worries, it was enough.
Most of the rest of the house was ready to fall asleep at 9pm in anticipation of waking up at 3am to leave the house by 4am, but I was too ancy and stayed up till 10pm. Whoo hoo! I was glad I had slept the bit I had though come 3am.
I had thought Jeannette was a little extreme in her concern about getting to our designated spaces in time, but once we were on the road it was quite obvious she was really smart in getting us all moving in a timely fashion.
Even by 4am it was a virtual mad house. I've never seen such throngs of people waiting in line. Many had never gone to sleep, but were staying up overnight to ensure their entry. It was really crazy. We took a cab as close as we could and then walked until we found a metro that would take us closer.
Here's a few pix from this part of our excursion. What cracked me up is one of the ladies traveling with us loved to say, "Watch out, elderly lady" and I teased her by saying, "Come on old lady". I tease my mom that way and she took it in stride too because she could tell I was just teasing.
This is an example of how crowded the metro was even this early. It only got worse as the day continued. Apparently someone got knocked onto the train tracks and was killed or injured (never did hear which was true) and that caused one metro to completely shut down for three hours with people stranded inside.
They were so dehydrated when they got out that the police made a chinese man open his store and just pass out water bottles to help people not pass out. I heard later that some people waiting at the purple section never were even allowed in because a few people had heart attacks. Over 30 children were taken away due to hypothermia. I wouldn't doubt it! It was bitter cold and this was just the start of the morning!
All four of us traveled as far as we could together, but then the three of them split off to find their silver entrance whereas I dashed off to find my blue entrance. Silver was behind the water and my area was directly behind the seating area much closer.
I knew that my local City Council Member hadn't planned to leave his house till 8:30am not aware of what a crazy place this was turning into. I texted him at 5am to warn him to leave asap. Never did hear back whether or not he made it in, but highly doubt it.
Here's some pix from my waiting in line. I had picked up this paper because I knew I wanted a momento of the day and it turned out to be quite a great prop. I held it up full-length once I was inside and apparently made it on the news my girlfriend told me via text. I also was interviewed on the radio and probably shocked the news announcer when I told him I hadn't voted for Obama, but was attending nonetheless.
I actually shocked quite a few people when I revealed that I had campaigned for the other guy. My house-mates teased me and said I had better sleep with one eye open because they were going to pop my air mattress in the middle of the night. Did I already tell you that? I can't remember what I've told and what I haven't.
The other house-mate who came in a day later was sharing with Jeannette about all the campaigning she had done for Obama and how she had come out from CA even though she didn't have a ticket. When Jeannette shared with her that I had one, the lady asked, "What did she do to get one?" They both busted up when Jeannette explained I hadn't done anything and was a Republican!
It really was a fun experience to be one of the few Republicans in a sea of Democrats. Here's a few now...:)
Isn't the glowing cool?
That's how close I got to the entrance. It was so cold at one point I started leaning up against this guy back-to-back just to warm up. I didn't know him and he didn't seem to mind - really helped! I did meet a really nice young girl from KY who was a fellow Republican. She and 40 plus other students had made the trek to watch this historic event too. We had fun discussing politics before the line began moving and I lost her.
What was so cool about being crowded together like cattle is that everyone was courteous, happy, and in great spirits. We were all crammed up so close you really had no other choice. People were chanting OBAMA, OBAMa. It kinda bothered me when they began singing O Come Let Us Adore him because I thought it was rather sacriligious, but to many, Obama is their god I guess.
We stood crammed together from 5am till 9am when they opened security and we began moving through the zig zag lines to get in. It really went smoothly once you passed the security and it felt really great to be able to move around. Here's a pic of the security area to give you an idea of what it was like.
Once you were through security there were porta potties lined up along the path leading in to the open area where we all ended up congregating again. Here's a few pictures to show how empty it was originally and then how crowded it soon became as soon as it got closer to the actual start-time.
My ticket allowed me to stand right behind the seated section which was very close. The news stationed themselves in front of us and were constantly panning the audience. Here's some pix of how crowded it became and more of the view I had.
This was what that empty space looked like at 10am. It soon became so crowded you couldn't move left or right. I felt a little claustrophobic, but also warmer!:)
This is the newspaper I held up that the news crew shot. Once a publicist, always a publicist is all I have to say. I picked up more newspapers that day because I love these kind of special remembrances.
This is what it looked like when it filled in. I heard Dustin Hoffman, Steven Spielberg and many other celebrities were seated on the stage which was cool. We saw a few walking by, but no one that big. This is channel 7 discussing how they were going to shoot I guess. Notice how empty? Pretty soon almost every seat was taken. It made us all laugh when the announcer invited us to all sit down after a certain portion of the event because we all really wanted to, but there was no place to do so!
This couple became my friends since were standing together so long. He was especially moved by Obama's presidency because of his realization that now anything was possible for him as an African American. It was very moving to share this moment in history with so many African Americans. One girl teasingly said this was probably the first inauguration that so many African Americans actually attended and I wouldn't doubt that was true.
This guy was constantly filming us so if you happened to see someone who looks like the below picture, that was me!
I felt like a Russian Cussack the entire time, but at least I was warm. At a certain point, vanity just had to go out the window especially when you're dealing with frigid conditions.
The red curtain was where everyone was walking through to find their seats. I was rather disappointed in the reception Bush received, but it was to be expected. No class is all I have to say. He was our President after all and deserved some respect, but tacky people do tacky things.
Jeannette told me later in her area people were signing Na Na Na Na Na, hey hey, good bye, but they shut up when she and others asked, "What would Obama do?" I guess that's the new WWJD - lol. When Bush flew off later it was really amazing to look around and see everyone waving him off. I know many were happy to see him gone and I can't say I didn't agree, but still he served us for 8 years and kept America safe from terrorist threat.
It will be very interesting to see how long that lasts under Obama. Sorry, but that's what I feel and I can't change that opinion. Just because I was there didn't mean I accepted or approved of everything he stands for and does.
I loved the entire ceremony and was happy to see Pastor Rick Warren said a good prayer. I appreciated hearing Obama's speech, but to be honest there was a part of me that was simply terrified knowing he was going to be leading our country. I didn't cry, I didn't share the same emotions of so many there that day because even though I wanted to get caught up in the emotion, my mind was too much in control.
I cried a bit later when sharing about the African American couple who stood behind me and how much that day meant to them. That, I could relate to. However, the idea that Obama is our savior and going to change the world just doesn't feel right. He's just a man and the sooner people realize that, the more realistic their expectations of what he will accomplish will be.
Sorry to be so hard-nosed, but I guess that's just my trust issues rising to the top. One of black Dem friends called me to say, "You now have two Chocolate Daddy's" iimplying that he and Obama were going to take care of everything. I had to laugh because I thought it was funny, but don't really believe it.
I know so many of my Dem friends are going to be mad for me saying so, or incredulous that I could even think such blasphemous thoughts, but again, he's just a man and I have to remember that God is ultimately in control.
So, that is my perspective on the actual inauguration. It really was a special day and something I will remember for years to come. I have to run to a cocktail reception for an aspiring MB City Council Member, but will share more later on what happened once the Inauguration was over.
That's when the craziness really began.