Wednesday, January 21, 2009

My Inauguration Story

I was not one of the millions in Washington, DC today watching the inauguration. (This would be obvious to you if you were following my inauguration saga on Facebook.) I really wish I could have been there, but I also have a very low tolerance for crowded lines, so I'm not sure it would have been the best place for me (and I'm also still sick, so not a great idea).

The day started out slowly. I watched coverage on cable news, people coming out of the church, special people going to their seats, dignitaries arriving, and I had to pull myself away to go to the office, or else I would never leave!

I pass through Times Square on the way to work, and as I planned, I passed by the big TV set up in Duffy Square by Time Warner Cable. It was in this big red, white and blue setup and was set up so that people could sit on the TKTS risers and watch. There were already at least 100 people there, and it wasn't even 11 yet. It was only going to get more crowded. Snapped a few photos and then headed to the office.

The first thing I did (other than work) was try to log on to one of the online streaming sites because I was already in need of my inauguration fix! I had planned to watch all of the inauguration coverage on my computer in case I had an emotional fit (like I did on election night), but that was not to be. I tried CNN-Facebook (wouldn't load), C-SPAN (site wouldn't even load), MSNBC (wouldn't connect), Hulu (stalled every 5 seconds), even NPR wouldn't load (and that didn't even have any images that I know of!). Many work interruptions, many failed attempts at online streaming later, and it was already 11:40 am. I had planned to watch the coverage but had seen nothing since I left home. I was frustrated, upset and sad. This moment meant a lot to me and I was going to miss seeing history live! This couldn't be!

Luckily our office was showing it on TV live in the cafe and in another room, but I hadn't planned to go there initially since I couldn't multitask. But in the end, history won out and I went upstairs and joined the mob of people in the middle of the opening prayer. Luckily I didn't miss the swearing-in of the Vice President. I made it just in time. I know I was fortunate that it was being shown in-house, because I have no idea what I would have done otherwise since I couldn't connect to online streaming. They promoted the online coverage so heavily (especially Hulu and CNN-Facebook) -- how could they not be prepared for this onslaught? It was so frustrating!

I watched the remainder of the opening prayer, the musical performances, the Vice President taking the oath (it feels so good to say Vice President Biden!), and finally, President Obama (it feels even better to say that and still so surreal!) taking the oath (good job Roberts...). It was an unbelievable moment. There was clapping and cheering in the cafe. Even though he officially became president at noon without the oath, now, both officially and symbolically, the Bush era is over. Completely over.

The inaugural speech was fantastic. I'm not going to quote it, because it's too difficult to not quote it all. But points I liked. Hope over fear. Citing different religions and including non-believers. Talking about how we will value both safety and our ideals and respect and follow the rule of law (and CNN cutting to show Bush 43 when he said that). It just set the right tone, and I really hope they find effective ways to get us all to pitch in to help change America. Let's put that mega mailing list to good use!

Watched more of the coverage over a lunch meeting (including the benediction which was great - yellow will be mellow!). Tuned in this afternoon and watched the parade coverage on CNN-Facebook, which got more reliable as the afternoon went on and people tuned out/went home. It felt great being part of something bigger, something national, something worldwide. And watching the Facebook status updates was kind of addictive!

But of course, not everything about this day was perfect. I'm glad Senator Kennedy is ok, and wish him and his family the best. It was such a scare at that congressional luncheon today hearing that news!

I still can't believe that it's real, and that we're living in a new age with Barack Obama as our president. It felt like the nightmare of the Bush era was never going to end. And this also feels good knowing that I was PART of it. I donated to the campaign, both money and time. I voted. My vote counted. My vote (even though I'm from a safe state) helped contribute to this, this unbelievable, historical day.

They have used various songs throughout the day on the networks, but I think the one that perfectly fits a montage of inaugural pictures is U2's "Beautiful Day." Beautiful day indeed.

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