Because It's a New Day...

blog post from Obama's Inauguration

Thousands of people milling around before onto the mall, the first sign that caught my eye, neon green poster board with black block letters, said "MLK is smiling."

It's the only way to put words to the feeling I've had all day.

Sure, I'm not a morning person, emphasis on not. I'm also not a cold weather person. And today required both.

Tracey and Abe got back from the green ball after extensive traffic delays around 1:15 am. We packed our bags and headed to Abe's since he lives near union station. The plan was to sleep to the last possible minute and then head over to the mall around 7:30. The gates to the mall weren't opening till 8:00 so we figured we would be okay.

Um, wow we were wrong.

2:37 am we got to Abe's after riding the metro with a bunch of loud drunk people who squished onto the metro car when they totally should have waited for the next train. It took us about a half hour to get settled and then Abe slept on futon downstairs and Tracey, Jewel, and I were pigs in a blanket in Abe's bed, which possibly had 13 different blankets on it. It's a queen sized bed and Tracey volunteered to take the middle (her fault) so we crowded in there and fell asleep. At some point during the night Tracey woke up sweating and decided she'd rather be a dog instead of a pig in a blanket so she somehow got out of bed without waking Jewel or I up, grabbed the cushion from Abe's circle chair, put it on the floor, and lay fetal position with a scrap of a blanket for the next few hours.

The alarm went off at 7, then again at 7:11, and Abe came in at 7:15. We finally got out of bed around 7:30. Wheaties, soymilk, and an apple later, Abe's roommate Curtis joined us and after waiting for Abe FOREVER (yes, Abe, you moved slower than the rest of us) we got out of the house and headed for the Capitol.

I wore a ski mask - oh yes, I was a ninja! Other than that, I was in jeans, a thermal, a hoodie, my new winter coat (thanks mom), and my uggs from the nordstrom's children's dept. No one, not even my know it all sister :) told me any of these secrets of how to survive the cold weather. Tracey and Jewel wore pants under their pants and then couldn't believe that I didn't know to do that. But never in CA would it have occurred to me to put leggings underneath my jeans, which meant, yes my legs were cold. Also, in my ugg boots, I can't wear socks. The fur sticks to the socks and they scrunch up and end up sliding off or riding down, and frankly it's annoying, so I didn't wear socks. apparently I should have worn knee socks, but you know my closet is so full of those...

So on the "short walk" to the mall - which turned into a 2 1/2 hour odyssey - my feet got sweaty, which meant cold wet fur in the uggs - not good at all. And the fabulous ski mask ended up holding all the moisture from my breath inside the mask and my eyelashes and eyebrows got frosty. I have pictures to prove it.

Once we got to the Capitol, we realized we were in front of "ticketed only" entrances and we had to backtrack. After getting caught in a whirlpool of people, we realized trying to take side streets was probably not a good idea. So we went back the way we came.

3rd Street's entrance was chaotic.

The next entrance was closed.

And the next one, also closed.

A city cop announced to the crowd the only entrance still open was 18th street. So the entire crowd went that way.

I really thought by the time we finally got to that entrance we'd be turned away, but thankfully we made it and we got into the mall near the Washington Monument.

And the wait began.

In the introduction to MLK's account of the civil rights struggle Why We Can't Wait, he gives a depiction of a boy sitting on a stoop of a vermin infested apartment in Harlem and a girl on a stoop of a rickety wooden shack in Birmingham. I've read it hundreds of times. But the parallel images of this hypothetical boy and hypothetical girl separated by stretching miles wondering what their forebears did to deserve their misery, despite what they know of their history always strike me in a way which reminds me of the power in words. The image of this boy and girl standing up, squaring their shoulders, lifting their eyes, joining hands across the miles, and taking a firm step forward, it chokes me up every single time I read it.

Today, thinking about the campaign, seeing the thousands of different people of all ages and ethnicities braving the crowds and cold weather to come out and be a part of a historical moment like this, I was struck by the fact that the morning felt similar to the days in high school when we scrambled to gave Dave Matthews tickets or similar to the mornings in college when we got up at six am after three hours of sleep to tailgate outside the orange bowl before the Miami/Florida State game. And I remember bemoaning our situation several years ago when it seemed like more people were voting for American Idol than for political elections. No matter what Obama does, he's already accomplished something. He's brought people together, he's renewed interest in issues deeper than Paris Hilton's DUI and reality television. He's inspired. Even Pepsi's new marketing campaign is capitalizing on that inspiration. Barack Obama is fighting apathy, and winning.

That sign - "MLK is smiling" - brought me to tears because today words like "change," "commitment," "hope," they mean something different.

Quotes of the Day
Guy on the over crowded metro: "Welcome to Tokyo."

Guy on the way into the mall at 18th street: "I just walked here from Maryland."

Tracey: "I love how we woke up early and decided to stand in the freaking cold to watch a big TV."

Tracey: "Why do people bring their babies. They're not going to remember this, and look that baby is so cold, it's turning blue."

Barack: "Today I say to you that the challenges we face are real, they are serious and they are many. They will not be met easily or in a short span of time. But know this America: They will be met."

Barack: "The time has come to reaffirm our enduring spirit; to choose our better history; to carry forward that precious gift, that noble idea, passed on from generation to generation: the God-given promise that all are equal, all are free, and all deserve a chance to pursue their full measure of happiness."

Barack: "Starting today, we must pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off, and begin again the work of remaking America."

Barack: "...let us brave once more the icy currents, and endure what storms may come..."

Tracey: "Why is Joe Biden's wife a supermodel? He's like 95 years old and his wife was wearing knee high boots today."

Will.I.Am: "No I'm not surprised Bush didn't make any pardons. I think he was the most relieved president to leave office...I think he was excited to get on that helicopter, sit next to Laura, pop a bottle of grape juice and get the hell out of there..."

Barack: "Since the first lady of the United States has been doing the same thing I've been doing, except backwards and in heels, let me ask her for one last dance."

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