Wednesday, February 4, 2009

January 20, 2009, Part I

Note: Times may be off, but in order to access my phone to check the time, I would have had to expose my hand to the freezing air a little bit more than I wanted to, so most times are approximate.

3:20 AM: I woke up and got dressed: underwear, bra, heavy knit tights, thick knee socks, undershirt, thermal shirt, turtleneck, cashmere turtleneck, cords, scarf, Uggs, long down coat, gloves, and hat.

3:30 AM: Jon drove me to West Falls Church station to take the train in.

4:15 AM: I got onto the first train, but I was immediately pressed up against strangers and the doors.

Newport News had a camera guy in the train by me--people were eating the attention up.

I also made sort of friends/allies with some couple that must have thought I was fifteen because they were so concerned about me, which in my situation of being squished and overheated was nice.

For 13 stops (from West Falls Church to L'Enfant Plaza), people were trying to get onto the train. (The stop I got on was the third from the first stop.)

4:45 AM: I arrived at the Mall, but I couldn't gain access, along with a lot of other volunteers, to the north side of Air and Space Museum where volunteers were to meet up.

The Capitol building looked decked out and ready.

5:00 AM: Volunteers (and other folks too) found a way to get past cops. We went to our meet up spot.

6:00 AM: Our team went over to our area to cover (the second jumbotron on the left side of the Mall facing the Capitol; red arrow points to second Jumbotron on map below) where we were to help by giving information to people if they needed it.

A nice guy named Josh was my partner for the day. (He works at the patent office and is going to Catholic University for law school.) We waited for the sun to rise, griped about the hand warmers we were told we'd have, and learned to deal with freezing. Boy scouts and girl scouts were distributing the flags you saw on TV.

7:00 AM: Jumbotrons showed information about where to get warm, etc.

8:30 AM: The refreshment stand opened, and Josh went to get us some hot chocolate with the $10 stipend for food that we got. I held down the fort.

9:00 AM: A volunteer distributed hand warmers. I got one for Josh too. On the Jumbotron, they started showing the concert from Sunday, which was interesting to me because I hadn't seen it.

9:30 AM: Josh returned with hot chocolate, and it was the best hot chocolate EVER!

9:45 AM: I went to get more hot chocolate. On my way there, while trying to take photos of the Capitol during the daytime, I found that my camera battery was dead. I was bummed, but more cold than bummed.

10:15 AM: I returned with coffee for us (they ran out of hot chocolate, and the coffee was disgusting) and stuffed the hot dog in my purse for later. I got the hot dog to use up my stipend money: that is I spent $2 each for hot chocolate/coffee and $6 for a hot dog.

Inauguration day hot dog! (Taken later that day.) It was good.

10:30 AM: Josh told me that my camera battery was just playing dead because it was so cold. So I put the battery in my glove near my hand warmer. In the meantime, he took a photo of us for me.

11:30 AM: Things started to get good. Important people were showing up! My camera sort of worked sometimes!

Then people showed up that people actually recognized like Bill and Hillary!

And Obama! and that guy with the four-letter name:

At least Obama came out without that punk so people didn't have to cheer/boo them. When people first saw Bush on the scene, he was booed and that was followed by a round of the chorus: Na Na Na Na Na Na Na Hey Hey Good Bye.

12:04 PM: Obama took his oath:

Crowd shot:

Unfortunately, for the poet, but I guess fortunately for me, the area started clearing out around this time. Here's a better shot I took while cleaning up people's trash.

12:45 PM:
The Inauguration itself seemed to be over. I was so freakin cold and exhausted from being cold. I headed to the Air and Space Museum to seek refuge, warmth, and a seat. (The last time I sat was in the car with Jon that morning. And my hips and legs ached from walking down the stairs from the fire alarm incident the previous Friday night or maybe even from Kendo that previous Sunday morning.)

It turned out to be a very pretty day though still chilly.

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