Friday, January 23, 2009

The inauguration

I will map my inauguration journey for posterity's sake. (most times are estimates)

Some time in November: Applied for tickets through Sen. Schumer and my Congresswoman but have no aspirations of actually getting a ticket.

January 7, 10:47am: Received an e-mail from Congresswoman Nydia Velazquez's office that began like this:

Dear Friend,

Thank you for expressing interest in attending the Swearing-In of the 44th President of the United States. An unprecedented number of people are expected to travel to Washington, DC for this historic event. It’s an honor to help provide New Yorkers with the opportunity to attend.

Isn't that a totally misleading way to start an e-mail with buzzwords like "expressing interest" and "unprecedented number of people"? But yes I got a ticket. I screamed at my desk for a few minutes. Updated my facebook status. Called my boss who caused me to freak out for a few minutes saying I might not be able to go since I'd have to go down w/HW. But that was resolved shortly.

3:48pm: Pay $350 for an overpriced Amtrak ticket.

Jan 10: My dad tells me how stupid I am for paying $350 for transport without checking out "other options." I check out other options and buy Greyhound tickets for $60. I save $240.

Rest of week: Make plans to stay with Marcy; tell everyone I know I won a ticket to inauguration so everyone can be jealous of me.

Sunday, January 18: Go home for my grandmother's 90th birthday and borrow a fancy dress from my mother to wear in case NYMag sends me to an inaugural ball like Iwant.
Monday, January 19, 5am: My dad drives me from Ossining to Port Authority to catch the bus. Not sure why he offers to drive me, but much appreciated since I am way overpacked.

6am: Arrive at Port Authority. Woman behind me has a dog. Chat with line mates about the historic nature of our trip. One dude refers to this as "our generation's Woodstock" and it totally is. Also unlike my bus trip to Boston, this is a diverse group of folks (though on the young side).

7am: We board the bus. The bus is packed, but I somehow get my own seat. Life is beautiful. Or I smell. I go to sleep.

12:30pm: Arrive in D.C. Read a text from NYMag editor asking if I can go to the Hip Hop Inaugural Ball. Ummm, yes.

1:00pm: After nice city worker helps me buy a Metrocard, which I should be totally capable of doing since I'm from NY, I schlep to the Rayburn Building. I even get a seat on the Metro. This doesn't even happen in NY. So far Obamaland is nothing but happiness.

1:30pm:First roadblock in Oz. I thought I'd just walk into my Congresswoman's office, chat a little, use the bathroom and move on. WRONG. The line wraps around the building in a sort of an amateur Disneyland hell. I then get a text from my editor at NYMag asking me to interview people on line. This sort of passes the time as I ask adorable children why they like Obama and grown-ups if they'd sell their tickets for a million dollars (most won't) while the nice man in front of me directs my suitcase.

3:00pm: Some brilliant people jump over a barrier to a shorter line, and my line friend and I follow, with suitcase.

3:30pm: Finally get in the Rayburn building. Get ticket from Velazquez's office. Disappointed I'm in the silver section, which is basically the front of the Mall, and there's no way it would have qualified as a ticket in a pre-Obama world. "So I'm in the mall...with all the other people?" I ask the woman at the front desk.

3:45pm: Decide not to be a spoiled brat and be thankful for what I got. Also meet the deputy mayor of Buffalo while waiting to get in the Metro. On the Metro meet an adorable oldish couple who met girls who took ballet with Sasha and Malia.

4:45pm: Meet Marcy at her stop in Columbia Heights. Eat Popeye's then go to her HOUSE. Seriously, she has a house! That she shares with one person. A little D.C. envy.

6:00pm: Marcy and I prep for Hip Hop Inaugural Ball while discussing how un-Hip Hop we are

8:00pm: Arrive at Hip Hop Inaugural Ball. D.C. does not know how to run a red carpet, but I guess they don't have much experience. Interview Don King, Russell Simmons, Tatyana Ali and lots of hip hop people I've never heard of. (See some of the Q&As here)

8:45pm: Go into the party. Drink some Obama drinks, eat some bad appetizers, and feel pretty white. Sneak our way up into the VIP lounge and have to be all paparazzi-stealth like when they ask all press to leave. Talk to LL Cool J. He is nice but says a lot of nothing. The best part is I say "This is my friend Marcy" and he kind of checks her out and goes "Mar-ceeee!"

10:30pm: Watch Hip Hop Award Show. Busta Rhymes has good performance. Best part was TI, rapper formerly on house arrest, says of his volunteering to get out the vote for Obama, "It didn't even count as part of my 1,000 hours!"

midnight: Have to leave just as the party's starting since I am not actually a partier but a reporter and need to type up all my notes from the party. The party was fun though!!

January 20

4am: Go to bed after typing up notes from Ball.

6:45am: Wake up.

8:00am: Leave with Marcy's super-sweet roommate and her coworkers at a senator's office to go to Inauguration.

9:00am:After walking miles throughout the city and through tunnels arrive at the line for silver ticket holders. No end in sight.

9:30am: Walk two miles to the end of the line. Assume there is no way we'll see inauguration. Prep myself to miss the most historic happy event of my life.

10:45am: The line breaks up! We're in the mall!!!

Despite being all-ticketed, there's no way to see the stage. Strain to see the jumbotron, since lots of trees (that smart people sit in) and tall people in front of me. One man has a hat on that blocks jumbotron so people start cheering "Take the hat off!" He does only to reveal hair that sticks up.

A fiercely partisan crowd, we cheer the Democrats (and Colin Powell) when they turn up on screen and boo Lieberman, Clarence Thomas, Dick Cheney (who looks more evil in wheelchair for some reason) and Bush, which seemed a little innappropriate since he is (or was) our president despite being a crappy one. People also cheered "Na na, na na na na, hey hey hey--goodbye."

12:00pm: Obama becomes President! We totally miss the flubbing by Roberts, since can't really focus on details. Ditto the speech. But still, excitement, crowd, joy!!! hope!!! change!!!

The rest of the day consisted of walking, crowds, more walking, Ethiopian food, napping, hanging out at Marcy's, seeing Ruby and sleeping.

But twas a joyous inauguration. And now Barack Obama's President. the end.

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