Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Inaug-Blog

Well hello there. It’s been a while. I’m still around, being anal about little things like jelly dishes and slacking off on important things like laundry. Despite working in a community that’s fecund with social justice study and discussion, I find that my loves are still the same: food and psychology. So I’ll write about my inauguration experience and hope that you’re not a DC native because this will likely be inaug-tale number 129 for you.

The day before Obama’s induction, once some financial duties were sloppily completed, I ran off into the cold to accomplish two things: 1) Get my inauguration ticket from my representaitive’s office and 2) see if I could get in to see Aretha Franklin at the Kennedy Center (after which I could die a happy, happy girl).

You’ve really got to pay attention to this Southeast, Northwest, etc. thing in DC. You might be looking forward to an evening of smooth jazz and instead find yourself at Frank’s Cubicle Storage in a squalid riverside community in Southeast. That day, in my haste, I failed to note that the representative’s office was a very quick, four-block walk from William Penn House rather than on some non-existent 2nd Street section downtown. “Funny, there isn’t supposed to be a tunnel here...” Toward the end of my search I was running through the crowds in a frenzy, upset and harried, before a kind café owner told me that I was a good fifteen minute walk from my 3:00 deadline. It was 2:57.

Defeated, almost broken, I decided not to be a weenie and keep trying for my second goal. The office would be open again tomorrow morning, and calorie burning will justify almost any presumably useless trip.

The first train rumbled in. Full to the brim. The second train came in. Almost empty. Weird…but OK. I spent the rest of the afternoon (no tickets left for Aretha of course) wandering around in a peevish haze, people watching and trying not to think too hard about how much time I’d wasted.

The following morning I woke up at 6:00am to get the ticket, which was just as easy as walking into a country corner store and buying a Zagnut bar. A memory came rushing in: The day before, I walked past that very same building on my way to the imaginary rep’s office and thought, “Hm I wonder what all those people are waiting in line for?”

Now, as ex-boyfriends and family members will tell you, when I don’t get enough sleep, I am a grumpy, unpleasant human being. On inauguration day, I was downright unlikable. Stupid inauguration. Stupid ticket. Stupid crowds of people. Stupid moment in history. But I headed down. When I reached the inseparable, unorganized lines of ticket-holders down by the Capitol Building (a.k.a the “ticket-thicket”), a patient, neighbor-loving crowd swept me up in their mass and had me going in some direction that was neither planned nor desired. Thank God for the group of friends behind me who, equally disoriented, called out “School of fish! Change directions!”

Somewhere down by the freeway (where it appeared zombies had attacked the city and throngs were waiting in line to escape to the epidemic) I lost my ticket. Yes, yes, yes – rib me if you like, but there it is…and I almost turned around. Not because I was grieving the loss of my chance to stand in a dreary line of over 1,000 people, but because this crowd crap wasn’t my thing. I wandered a little further in a state of indecision, and down around 7th Street I saw something; a beautifully plump young black girl with short blonde hair, blue contacts and glossy, glossy lips. Unmistakably, she was one of the more conspicuous subjects of my people watching from the day before, all the way up at the Kennedy Center. “Alright God. Let’s do this then.”

The poor man’s section down by the Washington Monument turned out to be way more sunny, hot chocolate-filled fun than the ticketed Silver Section ever could have been, and the sight and feel of that day will be with me forever.

So here’s to mistakes, here’s to the absent mind that God gave me and here’s to a new president who is already ruling in a spirit of intelligence and tolerance. With any luck, he’ll stick to the running the country, and I’ll stick to folding laundry…sometimes.

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