January 20, 2009. What a day, what a day. I mean seriously, is there anyone out there who wasn't moved at least a tiny little bit watching the swearing in of our 44th president, Barack Obama? Anyone who didn't find Malia and Sasha to be pretty much the cutest kids around? Anyone who wasn't in awe by the tradition and the ritual and the spectacle?
In the past, I have only seen bits and pieces of Inauguration coverage. This year though, I watched every single minute, the whole day from beginning to end ... 15 hours in total. And since we Tivo'd the whole event, the Esquire and I have now watched the actual swearing in ceremony 3 more times (ok, we skip Warren's prayer).
Since the Esquire couldn't use the DC traffic as an excuse to take the day off in LA, I watched most of the day's events alone. I found myself jotting down things that I would have said out loud, had someone else been there. I've spent the last two days trying to organize this list of jumbled thoughts into something coherent but I can't seem to do it. So for my Inauguration Blog Entry I've decided to just to share the list with you. I don't make any claims that these thoughts are intellectual or political or even interesting, it's just a list of things that crossed my mind--in between emotional crying jags--as I spent 15 hours watching history being made. Enjoy.
*From Diane Feinstein's greeting: "...future generations will mark this morning as the turning point for real and necessary change, they will look back and remember that this was the moment when the dream that began on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial finally reached the walls of the White House..." Wow. I like that.
*Aretha's hat??? No one else could get away with that. Good for her. (side note: I read in the paper today that the milliner who made her hat is overwhelmed with orders for the same hat)
*Air and Simple Gifts, the classical quartet. Didn't like it much at first (can't dance to it) but then the clarinet played alone...clear, haunting notes playing the first few measures of "Tis a Gift to Be Simple" and I got chills. (side note: I've replayed that part of the song about 15 times so far. Can I get it on my iPod?)
*quotes I particularly liked from Pres Obama's speech:
"we have chosen hope over fear"
"all are equal, all are free, all deserve a chance to pursue their full measure of greatness"
"The question we ask today is not if our government is too big or too small but if it works"
*The new President looks GOOD in Hi-Def! (side note: we just got a new HDTV and trust me, not everyone looks good in HD but Obama does!)
*Does the man ever use his teleprompter or does he have the whole speech memorized?
*Wonder what W is thinking? Can't tell by his expression. It must be a mixture of sadness and relief and sheer exhaustion. And I'm sure all the ex-presidents are listening to Obama's hopes and promises for the nation and are thinking "good luck with that." No matter what their political views I like to believe every president goes into office hoping to make things better and every president leaves wishing they could have done more.
*Bush Seniors fur hat: LOVE it! Was he always so stylish or is the purple turtleneck/yellow scarf/big fur hat a new side of him?
*From FaceBook during the swearing-in:
"Autumn thinks Justice Stevens is probably the actual happiest person in America today, since the poor man can finally retire."
Also on FaceBook, this message for our nephew Jack, who turned 9 on Inauguration day:
"HAPPY BIRTHDAY JACK...and for your birthday I give you the greatest hope for your country. You'll be the next great hope for the world someday I'm sure. --hugs from the Caseys"
*My status on Facebook during the swearing-in: " Kat is thrilled by the fact that she knows exactly what almost everyone she loves is doing RIGHT NOW at 8:55pst/11:55est. What an amazing moment for us all to share." I really was moved by that thought... that for at least 5 minutes--no matter what their timezone-- everyone was a part of the exact same moment.
*From the poem: "...each one of our ancestors on our tongue..." The Esquire and I are constantly asked how will we preserve our child/ren's Ethiopian heritage. I think this sums it up...we will try to keep their ancestors on our tongues.
*Greatest. Benediction. Ever. "In the shadow of your hand, may we always stand... may we turn TO each other, not ON each other..." Seriously, can I go to this man's church?
*Watching the Obamas escort the Bushes to their get-away-helicopter. I love that as Michelle hugged W good bye you could see her saying, "Thank you so much." I also love the fact that she gave Laura a parting gift. Class Act.
*Is the reflecting pool frozen over?
*I love that the Bravo Channel is showing a West Wing marathon during the Inauguration coverage ... the last season which eerily predicted real life. I love the last episode when the Bill Gates-esque character asks CJ to name the one problem in Africa that she'd most like to fix and she says, without hesitation, "Highways. It's not sexy but you can't fix anything else without them." And then he gives her 10 billion dollars to fix the highways. I've often wondered what ONE thing I'd fix if suddenly given 10 billion dollars...
*Budweiser commercial advertising their "American InaugurALE" Wow. I'm repulsed and yet oddly impressed with their marketing.
*Checking my google reader I find this quote on Spontaneous Delights' blog: "These souls (people who traveled to DC for the inauguration without having tickets or seats or plans) for whom freedom and justice and equality mean so much that they must travel down together to stand in the cold just to feel the change in the air." I feel like we can taste a bit of that air even here in LA but wow--how amazing to be in the middle of it.
*At the Luncheon (which I was absolutely fascinated by. I loved the coziness of it, but feel bad for poor Teddy) Obama thanked "the devoted waitstaff for putting up with me wandering through the tables." He thanked the waiters BEFORE he mentioned the dignitaries gathered...if that's not a sign of change I don't know what is.
*Lots of commercials for "Slumdog Millionaire"... another underdog that has risen to the top for good reason.
*During the parade: Al Roker, the Today Show weatherman, got a shout out from the Obama's as they walked past him. Al Roker, who has been on national television for at least 653 years was jumping up and down in excitement over the fact that President Obama spoke to HIM. So cute.
*In the Review Stands, where the Obama's will watch the parade--you can see the name tags on each of the seats--"Cabinet Member" "Malia" "Secret Service."
*In all the long shots of the White House, you can see the Secret Service walking on the roof, watching everything. Another Secret Service fun fact: no matter how cold it gets, the agents guarding the President can't button up their coats...they have to have them open so they can reach in quickly in case they need to shoot someone.
*The street lights along the parade route were specially designed so that they can be removed easily, so they don't mess up the view of the parade. Who knew?
*I kinda love watching Obama get down to drum corp as they pass by. He can't dance, bless his heart, but I love him for having fun and being willing to try.
*I cried when I saw the huge banner across the AFL-CIO headquarters: "Welcome Malia and Sasha" I love Unions.
But the main thing running through my mind, the main overwhelming thought I had the whole day as I watched the Inauguration coverage: This is the America I want our kid to come home to.
For some reason I have inextricably bound the election of President Obama to our soon-to-be kid(s). I wanted him to win the election for many reasons but I have to be honest and say that a large one was wanting our kids to have him as their president. I wanted them to start life as Americans with actual proof that anyone can become anything they want. And when he won the election, it hit me suddenly that one day we will have our Ethiopian children. And when I saw him being sworn in, I was overwhelmed with optimism not just for our country but for my family-to-be.
So yes, I spent a lot of time on Tuesday thinking about fashion and the Secret Service and the Secret Service's fashion, but I mainly spent the day thinking about my kid(s) and how much I wished for them to be curled up with me on the couch watching history being made. I guess I'll have to take them out of school for Obama '12 :-)
ps... back in August 2008, when we first started the Wait List Wait, I had big hopes and dreams that we would get our referral on the day Barack Obama was sworn in as our 44th president... talk about symbolism! Alas, it didn't happen for us, but it did happen for these people, and hey, symbolism is symbolism no matter what! Congratulations Cindy and Craig!