“What would President Obama think if he saw you now?”

26 Jan 2009 04:55 pm
Posted by: Donna

Hey y’all! I’ve been chastised, and deservedly so, for not doing my Inaugural blogging duty as promised. I did say I would try to do some posting while I was there, but like Ted Prezelski said when I ran into him at Jim Pederson’s shindig, “You can either participate in the Inauguration activities or blog about them, but not both.” (Not an exact quote but close to what he said.)

I’ve been meaning to write some cheesy, maudlin cliche-ridden and stale metaphor-laden paean to the Obamassiah and the significance of his swearing in, and much as I want to because I am becoming more smitten with him with each passing day – I’ll spare y’all that. Besides, that’s ground that has already been covered (See? I told you I suck at metaphors) by people far more eloquent than I.

But I do have to say that I was mostly an emotional mess from the minute I got to DC until I left. We arrived last Saturday and I swear there was just this palpable sense of excitement and optimism in the air. I should point out that DC voted for Obama by like 91% so it was definitely a welcoming place to the swarm of visitors. The whole city was basically a big old Obama love in. Sunday we went to the Yes We Can concert. Mark and I secured ourselves a fairly good spot in front of a Jumbotron. It was a great show and if you didn’t see it, it’s on HBO so they’ll be replaying it approximately 7 million times in the upcoming weeks so be sure to catch it if you can. I was tearing up throughout the whole thing but – for reasons that are still inexplicable to me – I sobbed like a baby when Garth Brooks walked onstage to sing “American Pie”. “Oh my God, Mark! Garth Brooks supports Obama! Gaaaarth Brooooks!!!”

Monday was spent in line for several hours at the Rayburn Building to pick up Inauguration tickets from my Congresscritter’s office. Someone in their ultimate wisdom decided that making everyone wait to get their tickets until the day before the event was a great idea so thousands of people snaked around the block. Finally, some members’ staffers started bringing tickets out to constituents in line, leading to other staffers following suit, which sped things up considerably but the whole process still ate up about 4 hours for us. Met cool people in line from all over the country. We shivered and grumbled but everyone had good spirits and was amazingly polite. I can honestly say I have never seen such patience and tolerance in such large crowds and long lines before. Everywhere in the city – on the streets, on the Metro, in restaurants – people were nice to each other. It was magical.

On Inauguration Day Mark and I awoke at insane o’clock to head down to the Purple Ticket Holders entrance. I think some of you might realize what is coming. Yes, Mark and I were among thousands stranded in the Purple Tunnel Of Doom. At 11:20 it was announced that the gate was closed. We decided to just make our way back to the hotel. We began walking and I spotted a little grocery store we could pop into for a cup of coffee. We ended up watching the swearing in ceremony on a 10 inch TV that the store owners kindly turned to allow us to see it.

I was disappointed and Mark was crushed. He’d bought a brand new camera for our trip…

…Okay, I’ve got to go off on a tangent here for a minute since I just typed the word “camera”. I must be some kind of freak anomalous curmudgeon but it is my honest opinion that digital photography is the single most aggravating development of the modern era. Incessant flashbulbs and the click-click-click of cameras all around me mar nearly every vacation, excursion, and important event of my life and this DC trip was no different. I’m not saying don’t take pictures at all but honest to God how many stinking pictures of the Lincoln Memorial do you NEED? Who are you going to show them to, anyway? The person next to you who is also taking 700 identical pictures of the same statue? What is WITH this bizarre obsession people have with chronicling every moment of their lives in photos? I’ve never been a shutterbug, have rarely even owned a camera, and loathe to have my own picture taken. Matter of fact, if not another picture were ever taken of me as long as I live I would die a happy woman. I’m 40. My best days are behind me. Plus, I’m pretty sure I weigh about 9000 lbs these days. Unfortunately, it is my fate to be surrounded by people who not only love to take photos, but thrill in their ability to take an infinite number of them and store them on 4 gigabyte memory cards. My darling Mark is this type of person. He loves taking pictures. Including of me, to my everlasting horror. He then likes to put said pictures of me (ones that display my recently-added extra chins in glorious vivid detail) on Facebook. I long for the old days when the camera fiends were constrained by film rolls. Again, I’m not saying don’t take pictures but try a little moderation. Just because you can take thousands of pictures on your nifty whizbang camera doesn’t mean you should.

Anyway, back to the tunnel experience. It sucked not to see the ceremony but I’ve kinda made peace with it. Because there’s something to be said for the fact that thousands of pissed-off inconvenienced people, who didn’t get to see the very thing many of us flew thousands of miles to see, can experience that but still be decent to one another. No arrests or altercations. Considering that people sometimes get trampled in Walmart trying to buy plasma TVs, I’d say that’s pretty remarkable. I’m sure the tight security and large number of cops had something to do with it too but it was more than that. I was reminded of a conversation I had with a 50-something woman a couple weeks after the election. She told me that when she was a little girl during Kennedy’s presidency, her mother would ask “What would President Kennedy think if he saw you right now?” of her and her siblings when they misbehaved. She told me this was a common parental rebuke in her community at the time. She said that’s the kind of President that Kennedy was. He made you want to be on your best behavior. That’s the kind of President we swore in last Tuesday.


  1. Comment by native on January 26, 2009 5:15 pm

    TMI on the chins, Donna. Like fax machines, digital cameras are just a great convenience of the modern age.
    Wouldn’t it have been cool if Napoleon liked to take alot of pictures while he was gallavanting around Europe? Maybe the historical record that’s being created now is also TMI, but some scholar some day will be glad to have the raw material to work with. I think. And if all the digitalia doesn’t turn out to be ephemeral.

  2. Comment by Donna on January 26, 2009 6:42 pm

    Dude, I’m not saying don’t take any pictures! I’m just saying that there’s no need to take 5000 when 5, or if you absolutely must, 50, will do.

  3. Comment by Katie on January 29, 2009 9:35 am

    Thanks for the parenting tip – totally going to use that one!!

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