WOW. I think that about covers it.
HA! What'd you think, I was done? MY WORD, I have too much to say! The morning started out at 6:00, when my friends woke up and started getting ready. I got up and got dressed. I discovered later, I should have worn more clothes. I had on a t-shirt, a button down, thermals, pants, and a big coat...and a scarf. I needed at least one other layer. My nifty hand warmers came in handy though! (Thanks to Mitchell Hardware - I'm glad you guys carry those!)
Jennifer (my colleague at NEA) and I set out from the Westin and started rolling down the street. We got down to NPR and picked up her friend Jody, and kept walking. We walked down the 395 tunnel. Jennifer and Jody are longtime locals, and both kept commenting about how weird it was, and how unprecedented this crowd was. Jody said he hadn't seen anything like it since the Bicentennial. I just wanted to sit down. (I'm fat and lazy, so the 4 mile walk wasn't in my plan.) We emerged from the tunnel, and kept walking, and finally managed to find out where the Silver ticket line was. This, apparently, was the big ticket - several thousand were given away. We fortunately got in a relatively short line...with only about 8,000 people in front of us. (A crowd estimate...)
It took us FOREVER to get moving. Once we got close to the gate, we got stopped...by horses. Then, it became a sardine can. I literally just got moved. I didn't do much walking, and the people around me propped me up. I made a lot of new friends. Most of them became friends because they were in very close proximity and got to know me far better than they likely ever wanted to. (Except the one woman who kept feeling me up...that was a little unnerving.) Finally, we got to the front of the gate line...and then we realized it was true pandemonium. The police lost control. They just got out of the way, and we snuck around the side of the gate, and walked right in like we owned the place. That's when Jennifer, Jody and I got separated. They went right when I went left. Glad I did, because that's how I managed to get into the Mall. Apparently, they let a HIGH number of non-ticketed folks into the Silver ticket gate area. Those folks just stood, and thus prevented those with tickets from being able to proceed to our area. I ducked and dived and flowed, climbed two barricades, and made my way to the Silver checkpoint. They frisked me (that was fun) and sent me in...and literally, just as Michelle Obama and Jill Biden arrived, I got close to a jumbotron...blocked by trees.
I didn't really care. I could see, in the distance, the Capitol, where my next President and Vice President were walking in. I stood just beside the Museum of the American Indian. I watched on the jumbotron as the First and Second Lady to be walked out to enormous cheers. I watched as the President walked out, and was historically and LOUDLY booed. Had it been a performance, he would have had to leave the stage. I was AMAZED. I've never seen anything like it. It bordered on disrespectful. Regardless of what's been, the man was still the President, and it was an Inauguration. Ceremonially, he was to be there, and had a role. I was a little surprised. And then it happened again, and again.
Then, Joe Biden walked in and the crowed went wild. Then Dick Cheney was rolled in...and the crowd again booed. Loudly. And then...the moment happened. The President Elect walked out and the nearly 3 million people on the Mall with me went wild, waving flags, screaming, and taking photos. We listened as Dianne Feinstein welcomed the participants and public; we listened as Justice Stevens swore in Vice President Biden, and we cheered. Then we listened to some of the most beautiful and soothing music ever...which wasn't a good idea given we were all sleepy. After it was done...Justice Roberts walked down, and welcomed the new President, who then swore his oath (with a slight abberation, thanks to Justice Roberts). It was wonderful. Absolutely wonderful. When President Obama turned to wave to the crowd, everyone went hoarse. We cheered. We cried. I cried. I couldn't believe it. The moment we had all been so excited about for two and half months had finally came true. It was amazing.
Once it was done, we all started to move. I missed the poet. Alas, I needed to start moving, because I had a ticket to the parade! A nice blue ticket! And then I gave up the ghost. I started walking. There was NO WAY in the WORLD I was going to be able to get on the Metro. The Federal Triangle Metro station was closed. Thousands were there waiting. So I set out walking...across 395, behind the Capitol, up New Jersey SE, down, down, down, all the way to Union Station. That's when I got the call from my new friend Chad Flowers over at WRAL. He wanted to know if I could come by for an interview!
It took me a second, but I finally made it down to the building they were in for an interview with David Crabtree, one of the best anchors on local news and the main reason I listen to Bill and Sheri in the Morning on WRAL-FM. Chad met me down on the bottom floor to take me up. This building was where all the networks and local tv stations were headquartered. Chad took me up on the roof, and we passed several local tv stations, even passing BET Networks! As we exited the elevator, Chad says, "Hey Debbie!" I looked to the right - and it was Deborah Norville! (I liked her on Today, even though there was drama.)
We went up, and after David did the live feed for the noon news, he interviewed me. It was nice. I wore my Elon toboggon, so I got to give a shout out to my alma mater, which was crucial! David was very nice, and he even called me Mayor! (Chad was unaware that I was the mayor of Franklinton...so when he asked me where I live, I told him. He said he thought I lived in Raleigh, and I said, "Chad, you kind of have to live in a place to be mayor." Even cold and tired, I try to be witty.) After that, Chad was nice enough to introduce me to Deborah Norville (and I got a picture!). I hung out there for awhile, and then started the trek back. The LOOOOONG trek back. I walked from Union Station back to my hotel at 14th and M. That took me through several tent cities.
What were the tent cities you ask? Literally HUNDREDS of street vendors. It was like Frankenfest and Mistletoe Market merged, multiplied and threw up. I did buy a couple of things, but so much of it wasn't that great in my opinion...it didn't look quality 'Obama' to me. (I'm a paraphenalia snob...) I came back to the hotel and found out about Senator Kennedy, which was a bit of a jolt. After that, I came back up to the room and hung out with the crowd here and watched the parade. I felt like I had much better seats here than I could have gotten fighting my way down to F and 14th where I would have entered. YAY FOR WARMTH AND TV!
Now? I'm off to get ready for the Southern Inaugural Ball. I think if I ever run for office again I want a 21 gun salute with cannons. (Don't know where we'd find them in Franklinton, so I may have to just be happy with my dad and his friends and their 21 guns...) Okay, I'm off! Catch ya later!