I realized, in that space between sleeping and wakefulness this morning, that I never posted a Ten Things Tuesday this week. Honestly, even if I’d been able to compose one (which I wasn’t), posting it would have been difficult. See item #3 for the reason. Anyway, this list includes things that have happened since Tuesday, just so you know:
1. I am elated that President Obama has already signed executive orders mandating the closure of Guantanamo and ordering that the CIA must comply with the rules the military is bound by concerning interrogations. I’m a little more proud to be an American this morning.
2. At one point, we in the crowd were watching a motorcade on the jumbotron and wondering if Obama was in it. Someone behind me asked “How’s Bush going to arrive at this thing?” (wondering, I’m sure, whether he would be in the motorcade, as well). My answer? “If there’s any justice, he’ll arrive in a Guantanamo jumpsuit and handcuffs.” That earned me a couple of pleased “I heard THAT!”s and “AMEN, Sister!”s.
3. Almost two million people jam up cell towers pretty damned fast. I had an opportunity to text one or two folks and post a blog entry as soon as we got there, but from about 8:30 on, neither I nor anyone around me was getting through on their phones. I’d heard on the news that cell service was expected to overload, and I’m here to tell you that it did. At about 4:30 that night, my phone buzzed about 12 times with all of the messages that had backed up over the course of the day. If you were one of the folks who texted me, I wasn’t ignoring you, honestly.
4. We had a staff member or a politico wannabe behind us in the crowd, and he was extremely helpful in identifying all of the faces on the jumbotron. “Oh, that’s So-and-So from Wisconsin. That’s Senator Such-and-Such from Tennessee…” It was pretty cool to hear who all the less-recognizable people were. Those I DID recognize included Sandra Day O’Connor, a Senator from our state, Magic Johnson, Stephen Spielberg and Kate Capshaw, Oprah, Dustin Hoffman, and the face I was most excited to see, Elie Wiesel.
5. Punkin’ Pie was TOTALLY distressed about the amount of litter that collected on the Mall and on the streets on Tuesday. “I’m ashamed by this,” she told me; “What’s the MATTER with people?” At one point, she attempted to collect the trash around her, but gave up when I brought her attention to the fact that there were literally NO trash cans around anywhere. I explained that the city was more willing to pay people to pick up trash for the rest of the week than risk someone leaving a bomb in a trash can. She understood the concept, but was still unhappy about the litter. That’s my girl!
6. For all that I was nervous about something happening during the inauguration, I was strangely comforted by the fact that there were snipers on every rooftop. Steve’s husband Larry pointed out, too, that for every sniper I COULD see, there were probably three that I COULDN’T. Never once was I nervous in the crowd, either; with the exception of one or two people who were impatient, every single person we encountered (up close and personal, even) was kind, smiling, and accommodating. I’m going to say it again – two million people and not a single inauguration-related arrest. That still blows my mind.
(this photo, and the one of the “changing of the guard” below, was boosted from the CNN site days ago, and I neglected to tag the references. Sorry. Oh, and if you look just beyond the reflecting pool to the left of this picture, we were standing right in line with the leading edge of the Museum of the American Indian, about 50 feet behind that jumbotron. We could SEE the Capitol, but we were too far away to distinguish individuals).
7. Bush was not met with much love from the crowd. In fact, every time his face was shown on the jumbotron, the crowd erupted into boos and hisses. In our section, I and a lady behind me exhorted those around us to not boo – it’s one thing to dislike the man and disapprove of the job he’s done she said; it’s another thing to disrespect the office. I said that I thought the best way to express our displeasure was to meet the man with pin-drop silence, and the woman behind me did the “if y’all don’t have nothin’ nice to say, just keep quiet” thing. Most of the people around us did just that. Now, when Bush’s helicopter flew overhead as we were exiting the mall, THAT was another story. There were catcalls and choruses of “Na, na, na, nah – HEY, HEY, HEY – GOOD BYE!” and folks yelling and flipping Bush the finger. I had no problem with THAT.
8. I thought that Warren’s speech was anemic and ridiculous, but not at all offensive, either. I’d heard that people were going to turn their backs on him as he spoke, but that didn’t happen in my section. I can’t foresee this guy being any kind of influence in the administration. Reverend Lowry, however, was brilliant. Light and funny, I thought that his benediction was the perfect closure to the ceremonies.
9. I LOVED Obama’s speech, and I particularly loved how pointy and sharp it was – and I particularly loved that Bush had to sit there and listen to how “we have chosen hope over fear, unity of purpose over conflict and discord. On this day, we come to proclaim an end to the petty grievances and false promises, the recriminations and worn-out dogmas that for far too long have strangled our politics” and about how “we reject as false the choice between our safety and our ideals.” I also loved that Obama called on everyone – even the “nonbelievers” – to participate in the remaking of the nation. “Nonbeliever” has been used as an epithet for a long time – if one didn’t participate in a faith tradition, than one is not to be fully trusted – and I think that attitude is going to slowly change starting now.
10. On the way home on the Metro, I encountered a man disseminating magazines. When he was finished giving them to all who wanted them, he sat down behind me and engaged me in conversation. He hadn’t been at the events, but he wanted to know what I was taking away from the experience. Without even having to think about it much, I told him that I was relieved to not feel afraid anymore. I told the man that I believed that Obama would essentially shift the way things had been done by the last guy and bring our government’s behavior more in line with our stated values – and the first few days seem to be bearing that out. I want to feel proud to be an American again, I said, and I think that this president is the one to start bringing us back.
Today’s flower is the almond blossom, which symbolizes hope and watchfulness.
Happy Friday, Everyone!