Saturday, January 24, 2009

Returning to normal

I’m back in Jasper, Ind., still recovering.

It's Saturday morning, after 3 a.m. Yes, it's taken me THIS long to recover and get the rest of my thoughts together. :-) A lot happened in those few days in D.C. The urgency and hurriedness (is that a word?) of it all took a lot out of me.
When the troop and I got back and got home Wednesday night, I left a bag in Jarrod's truck and I have two of his newspapers. We both got papers to keep as souvenirs.
I still haven't made arrangements to get that bag. Oops. Maybe I'll see him at church on Sunday.

This will be my last post for this blog. But I’ll leave up for as long as it stays - maybe until infinity? :-)
Here are some other pictures from my trip that I didn’t include in the other entries.

On Martin Luther King Jr. Day, I tried to go to the Newseum, remember? I didn’t get a chance to go back, but I did take some photos outside of the huge building:

This was my group of Obama friends riding with me on the train to the Inauguration:
Yes, they were THAT close.

Here’s a shot of Aretha Franklin singing “My Country Tis O Thee”:

And here’s Vice President Biden being sworn in:

And this is Rev. Lowery giving his stirring benediction:
He almost had people in the audience shouting, for real! I was giving him props during it. Although I like President Obama’s speech, that benediction was the best part for me - I could feel that in my bones. :-)

This is a picture of the departing helicopter with former President and Mrs. Bush in it:
Notice the fists pumping in the air. As soon as the helicopter came over the U.S. Capitol, people started cheering!

As I walked to the already crowded metro station, I stopped to take a pic in front of the Supreme Court:

Now that all the excitement is over, I’m left wondering what will happen in the next four years. President Obama has a lot to deal with now. He’s going to need our support in this. That’s not to say that we have to agree with everything he does, because we won’t. But he is our president now. And like all other presidents before him, he deserves our respect and our help. He’s not going to be able to fix everything by himself.

Before I go, I wanted to thank some folks who helped me get to D.C. and through this whole ordeal:

To Mr. and Mrs. Gleason: Thank you for letting me stay at your house and offering to feed me. I would have eaten more at any other time. But I was just too excited! So that's why I didn’t eat much overall. I knew I wouldn't starve, though. :-) Thank you so much.

To Dave: My chauffeur. My cook. Your hospitality went well beyond ANY hotel I’ve ever been to. You didn’t have to do a thing, and yet you made sure I was OK. I really appreciate you for that. And Stella was cool too.
(Dave and Stella)

To Jarrod, Judy and Kiersten: Thanks for letting me ride with you and for putting up with me. The trip was fun. It was nice to have like-minded Christians as traveling companions.
And Scooby, you are such an adorable goofball! Thanks for the entertainment and the company.
(Judy, Jarrod and Scooby)

To Allen and Colleen: You were so very nice to me. I appreciate you letting me sleep overnight at your house and using your computer to file a story. And it was very nice of you to offer me sleeping accommodations for my trip. If I hadn’t already made other arrangements, I would have taken you up on that. Oh, and the vegetable soup was wonderful!
(Colleen and Allen)

To Zach, Kathy and Bob: Your help, the maps and Monday night party made my trip even more enjoyable. Thank you.
(Kathy and Zach)

To Martha, my editor and, more importantly, my friend: Thank you for working with me on my stories for the paper. Your willingness to get up reeeeeally early to edit my stories, you helping me translate my experience into adequate words and you letting me call you at any time of the night made the writing process a lot easier. And your support at the very beginning — as soon as I found out I had a ticket, you were the one declaring, “You have to go” when I wasn’t so sure if I could — was a blessing. Thanks, friend.

To The Herald: Thanks for letting me go those three days! This is an experience I will NEVER, EVER forget, for the rest of my life.

To everyone who has been sending me encouraging words and thoughts: Thank you, thank you, THANK YOU! When I started this blog, I really didn’t think very many people would read it. But then people added themselves as followers, and many more sent me personal e-mails to my Facebook and Hotmail accounts. So thanks for checking this out.

Well, that’s it. We’ll see how President Obama does in the next four years. I hope that we all do our part to help him and help our country get through these tough times.

Stay peaceful, y’all.

- Candy

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

It's early Wednesday morning, and I'm packing my stuff to leave Washington, D.C.
There were lots of things I didn't get to see, such as my friend who lives here. But it was so hectic for me. I'll have to come back.
I wrote some of my thoughts for The Herald, for a story. Here is some of that. It needs editing, I'm sure. But I wanted to convey some of my excitement here:

Hundreds of people in front of me wait with anxiously for our next president to appear.
Behind me, hundreds of thousands of others, scream and chant. The chants wave to the front and over my head to the podium where he would stand soon: "O-ba-ma! O-ba-ma!"
I have never seen so many people so excited about a president. Yes, all the others in my lifetime had lots of support. But each have also had their fair share of naysayers. This time, the naysayers are few. Or maybe it just seems that way. The supports have definitely drowned them out for the last year.
I have seen the glee, the excitement on the people's faces.
This morning, while I was packed in with hundreds on a train ride to the inauguration, I met a woman from Madrid, Spain. She arrived Monday night for the event, she said through her friend, who was from California. She spoke no English, but communicated her excitement with a cheesy grin on her face and hand flying in circles to show how enormous she thought this moment was. She said she had to be here, that she couldn't miss witnessing this.
This is her:

It was cold, windy 27 degrees and my body temperature went from hot — in the train — to freezing — walking to my entrance — in the matter of minutes. My toes eventually went numb, my nose started to run and I could see every breath I took.

But I wouldn't trade that moment for anything in the world. To watch someone who looked more like me, seemed to be more like me, than any other president this country has ever had, meant a lot.
It told me that my country is getting beyond judging people negatively based on the color of their skin. Yes, I heard many people say that they wouldn't vote for a black man. But there were so many more who would, and did.
It told me that people all over can be passionate about the state of government. The topic of politics never came up around my family's Thanksgiving table or at family reunions. No one talked about things like that, because they didn't believe that government was truly trying to help them. But for our last two Thanksgivings, when I was home in St. Louis, we debated the merits of Obama, Hillary Clinton, John McCain and Mitt Romney.
My cousins and I talked about Sarah Palin at our September family reunion. They thought she pushed the women's movement backward. I said the fact that she's in such a spotlight helped push it forward.
And when that moment came, and President Barack Obama completes the oath, the deafening cheers of the crowd was shocking at first, and then settling.

We have a president a overwhelming majority of Americans wanted.
President Obama has a lot of work to do, and I don't expect him to solve everything. But I truly believe that he is going to be good for our country.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Oh. WOW.

The Inauguration was beautiful. From the beginning - for me that was at 6 a.m. - to the end, which is now, the day was wonderful. It was cold, I was on my feet for what seemed like forever and there were crowds everywhere.
And yet, there was no other place I wanted to be.
Everyone around me felt the same way.
I'll give a more blow-by-blow description later. Right now, I need to catch up with some people to get their experiences of the day.
But I wanted to show you how close I was:

I'll write more later.

This is it!

I'm up, dressed and getting ready to go down to the mall.
There are very few times in my life that I've anticipated something as much as I am anticipating this. In a few hours, America will have a new leader - and he looks like ME. I would have never thought that would happen.
I am so proud of my country right now - that the people really are open minded. As a nation, we have actually looked beyond the color of someone's skin and checked out the content of his character.
Ok, I'm not going to go all MLK on ya'. I'm just going get out of here.
Wish me luck that I don't freeze - not too much. :-)

Monday, January 19, 2009

The excitement is building!

First, this is for my mother:

I wanted to show you that I did twist my hair today. I know you were concerned about that. So now you can relax.
But since the inauguration is outside, I'll still have on my jean cap to help keep warm.

Now, to the excitement -
Everyone is so hyped here! And they are flooding in by the thousands. The metro is so crowded now, the trams are late because the ones in front of them are held up by droves of people trying to squeeze onboard.

See what I mean? Where those folks are standing, that's usually just open space. They are are in there like sardines.
I mean, everywhere you turn, there are people. You may as well forget about having your personal space, because there is no personal space!
So for me, today started around 2 p.m., after I finished with my hair. My plan was to go hang out some, go to a party with the Pfister family, who are also from Jasper, and then go to Jarrod's family's house to spend the night. So I packed an overnight bag and took off.
I took the tram in the direction of the Lincoln Memorial, but never made it there. Instead, I got off at the right stop and jumped onto a free shuttle to the Kennedy Center. I figured I'd go see it, since it was free. Aretha Franklin was giving a free concert at the center and everyone was trying to get there. But the tickets were gone in the morning, and there was a line wrapped around the building, people waiting to get in. Some of the folks around me mumbled some, but then someone mentioned the "O" word and everyone started being all chipper again.
I bought more souvenirs for my family and me. I still have about four to get and then I'm done.
So I was due to a party with the Pfisters at 5 p.m. Because I was held up on the crowded trams - I had to get on one, transfer to another and then get onto a different one because the one I was on didn't go far enough, for some reason - I got the party after 6:30 p.m. But they were happy to see me.
The menu was - and I kid you not - chicken livers wrapped in bacon, some kind of sausage in an apple glaze, German fries, regular fries, veal and squirrel. Yes, squirrel. Bob brought them with him from Dubois County and everything. No, I didn't try that. Actually I ate a piece of sausage, veal and German fries.

We jaw jacked for a while and then Jarrod and I headed out. We caught the metro going to Virginia and chatted with this lady who was originally from Scotland. She is a U.S. citizen and had plans to crash a ball. She'd just bought a dress to wear, in hopes that they'll let her in. I hope she succeeds.
Jarrod mentioned that each person here probably have an interesting story of why they're here and how they got to this point. I'll bet they do. Everyone has their own reason for coming. While it may be similar, each one has its own twists and turns. But we're all here for the same reason - to witness first hand history in the making.

Barack Obama has a lot of weight on his shoulders. But I also believe he has a lot of backup in the American people.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

I got it!
I picked up my press ticket!
I'm in the second green section, the green part closest to the bottom of the picture. I don't know if that means I have a seat or what, but at least I now know where I need to go and what I need to do. And it looks like I'm pretty close, so I'm happy.
Today was a good day. It got started at about 1 p.m. - because I slept for a long time and then got lazy.
I had to pick up my ticket before 3 p.m. from the Russell Senate Office Building, at Deleware and Constitution avenues, near the U.S. Capitol. Dave dropped me off at the Takoma station and I caught the red line metro to Union Station. You know, just seeing the Capitol is awesome in itself. I guess it's the idea of being so close to so may important buildings.
They got all these portapotties all over the place - like droves of them! I'm not complaining, just being overwhelmed.
And the cops! Every few feet I'd see a grouping of them - in cars, walking on the streets, on bikes. I definitely felt safe - in the daytime, that is.
Now the Senate building is like two or three blocks away. So of course I passed it up by about four blocks! Someone pointed me back in the right direction (people are nice and patient here).
I made it to the building, but getting inside was a challenge. All the main doors were locked! So I and five other journalists and two other people picking up tickets wandered around the building, pulling on doors. Two of the journalists was from Tanzania. The lady talked about how excited she was to see this inauguration, because it shows that anyone can be anything, even in her country. She also said that this helps with America's image, as well. That's what I think too.
The door we had to go in was a side door so far back no one would have seen it. One of journalists saw someone come out and followed where they came from.
We get inside, and by now it's 2:35 p.m. And we had to go through metal detectors - taking off our shoes and everything. By the time I got to the room to pick up my ticket, I had about five minutes to spare. But I got it.
After that, I went to find the Newseum - a newish museum that's totally about the media. I know it's geeky of me, but I really wanted to check this place out. As I was walking down Pennsylvania Avenue, I could hear music in the distance. I figured that was the free concert with Bouncy (translation: Beyonce) and the lot down at Lincoln Memorial. I decided to skip that - wasn't in the mood for that big of a crowd.
I got the Newseum about 90 minutes before they closed. The guard there said it take about three hours to go through. And since it cost $20 to get in, I decided to go back Monday - maybe.
I bought some souvenirs for my mom and myself and then caught the yellow line north to go see the African-American Civil War Memorial. It was closed and wasn't opening again until the day after the inauguration. But the black neighborhood I ended up in was nice. And while I was up there, I happened across Ben Chili Bowl. My friend Maurniece told me to go see it - it's been on the travel channel, she said. Well, as you can see in the picture, it was crowded. I was not in the mood to stand in line, so I left.
There is excitement in the air - a lot of anticipation. It's like people are full of excitement and are waiting to let it all out on Tuesday. It's going to be maddening.
Catching the metro back to Takoma was the first time I actually encountered a crowded metro. I had to stand the whole time. It's a good thing my dogs weren't barking, ya' know? When I got back, it was dark. And I didn't want to walk the mile back to the house. So I called Dave and he came and got me. He really is a sweetheart.
I talked to some of the Dubois County people here and I'm writing my story for The Herald. After I e-mail it, it will be time for beddy-bye.
Tomorrow, I meet up with a friend and then head back to DC to, hopefully, actually go into the Newseum. Bob Pfister, of Jasper, is having a get together at his son's place tomorrow evening that I'm planning to go to. After that, I'll catch the orange line with Jarrod back to Virginia and spend the night over there, because I don't want to walk back to the house in the dark by myself. And I don't think Dave will be around.
I have to make sure I remember to take my inauguration ticket and clothes with me, since I'll be coming to it from that direction now.
I'll try to do an update tomorrow while I'm in VA, if I can Internet service.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

I'm here!

We arrived at Judy's cousins' house sometime around 7. It was a good trip. But maybe that's because I slept most of the time. :-) I was supposed to help drive, but Just couldn't stay awake. Jarrod and Judy were nice enough to take over. I'll take my turn on our return trip. The accompanying picture was my sleep posture. Cute, huh?
Allen and Colleen are really nice. They offered to let me stay there, but I knew I was due at the Gleasons. So that's where I am now.
So, the hardest part of this whole trip was getting from the cousins' house in Fairfax, VA, to the Gleasons in Silver Spring, MD. My friend, Dr. Barber, couldn't pick me up. So for a good part of the trip, I was trying to figure out how I could get over to Maryland. I didn't want to catch the Metro at night, and a hourlong cab ride would be really expensive. arrod and Judy were going to ask their cousins how to get to Silver Spring, but I felt bad about them having to take me. After all, they did let me tag along and did all the driving on top of that. I didn't want to make them drive another hour past where they were going to take me.
I had decided in my head that I would stay in Fairfax overnight and catch the Metro in the morning - yes, with ALL THAT STUFF. J
But then Laura's brother, Dave, called me and offered to "pick you up at the Metro, or wherever." I latched onto the "wherever" part and asked if he would come and get me. He gladly agreed. So problem solved, right?
Well, it took him a little while to get there. It was night time and he was going to an area he wasn't used to. And it's hard to find streets and houses in the dark. He was a trooper, bless his heart, and he made it. And he carried my heavy bag into the house and up the stairs.
I'm staying in Laura's room. And it is so Laura - really artsy. Three walls are white and one is bright pink - I think you call it an accent wall. There are little sculptures on her chester , ceramic pieces on the shelves and art on the walls. Yes, this is Laura's room.
It's really comfortable here. The temperature is 26 degrees, but it's nice inside. And Dave's really cool. Even the dog, Ella, is OK - she's sweet.
Tomorrow, I go pick up my press ticket in DC. I'm thinking about going to see some of the sights - there's an African-American War Memorial and I want to go to the Newseum. I wanted to go see the LIncoln Monument up close, but it may be blocked. There's a free concert going on there with Beyonce, Usher, Bruce Springstein and some other folks. I'm not sure if I want to go. But I hear Denzel will be there. That might change my mind. Then again, my feet may say otherwise.
'Til tomorrow, stay peaceful.

Joy cometh in the morning

Why does one person pack so much, I asked myself as I looked at this group of bags. They're all mine. And I feel like I need them ALL.
I thought I wouldn't need a big suitcase. So I borrowed a smaller, cute light blue one from my Rosie. But as I packed it - at 2 o'clock this morning! - I realized that everything would not fit in that bag. Not even close.
Thanks anyway, Rosie.
So I drudged out the big blue bag and filled it quickly with clothes and shoes.
The purple bag has my camera and some food. Take food with you, everyone said. So there are rolls of crackers and two cans of that chesses that squirts out of a can. And I have some gifts for my Maryland host family - homemade cards and some bottles of French Lick wine - good stuff I think. Since I can possibly pay them what they're overwhelmingly wonder hospitality is really worth, I decided to give them some unique things that they couldn't get just anywhere. (I have to remember to NOT tell them about this blog until after I give them their gifts.)
The blue bag holds my laptop and what seems to be too-many-yet-very-vital cords - for my computer, cell phone, bluetooth earpiece, iPod and extension cord.Keeping up with today's technology is a very buiky endeavor. And I'm still not totally caught up. My phone is not an iPhone. My iPod is a Nano. And my MacBook only has Tiger, not the newer Leopard (or is it the other way around?). But it's good enough.
And the little red race car bag (I got it cheap at Dollar General, so I don't know whose number it is) has VitaminWater drinks and a pack of frozen bologna (still heeding the food advice of others).
Even my purse is a little heavier because of the bottle of water inside.
I finished packing all but the computer bag at 4 a..m. By the time the alarm went off at 6 a.m. I felt like I'd never been to sleep. Opening my eyes, I felt like warmed over death. It was hard to get up! But after I got a shower, it hit me...
I'm going to hit the road today! I'm going to see Obama!
I came alive - packing my last bag while whistling, "Signed, Sealed, Delivered."
Jarrod picked me up around 7:30 a.m. He didn't even blink twice when he saw all of my stuff. Then I saw all the bags he and his daughter, Kiersten, brought with them. And I didn't feel so bad. It was still more than theirs, though. But I felt like they were kindred spirits. I mean, you never know what you might need, right?
We picked up Judy, Jarrod's mom, and got on the road around 8:30 a.m. Judy made us sausage biscuits and bacon biscuits, which were tasty.
And that's where I am now - In a really comfy seat behind the driver, reclined some, waiting for the zzzzz's to come. We're on Interstate 64, crossing the Indiana/Kentucky border. My belly is full and I'm toasty warm (aaahhhh). The temperature is 18 degrees and we're going southeast, according the display inside the van. Kiersten is watching a movie on her DVD player and Judy and Jarrod are chatting in the front seat. Jarrod is driving.
My carmates (I guess technically, I'm their car mate). were going to be in the mall for the inauguration. But at the last minute, Zach Pister was able to get them tickets. Zach is from Jasper and he works in U.S. Congressman Brad Ellsworth's office. He got tickets for his family and was able to scrape up three more. I'm happy for them.
I've gotten so many well wishes and notes to "enjoy this historic moment." Getting there has been a process - I feel like I'm in college again, scheming to get something or somewhere. I'm loving it!
I think it's time for a nap. Signing off, at 9:32 a.m.

Friday, January 16, 2009

OK, this is how it happened:

Back in November, I applied for a press ticket to the inauguration. I really didn’t think I would get one, since I work for a small newspaper in a small city in the middle of the Midwest. So I pretty much forgot about it.

Then last Friday (Jan. 9), I received an e-mail from the U.S. Senate Press Gallery saying I have a ticket. My mouth dropped and I went into shock.

After I got my bearings, I started planning - really fast - how I would get there and where I would stay. And I had to do it on the cheap. I got very lucky.

One of my co-workers, Laura Gleason, is from the area. She asked her parents and they agreed to let me stay at their house. It’s in Silver Spring, MD, which is really close to DC. All I have to do is get on the metro. Now the metro stop is a mile away from their house, and I'm not the greatest walker, so we’ll see how that goes.

I’m riding with a family who’s also going from here. Jarrod Land is my minister’s brother, and he more than welcomed me to ride along. His daughter, Kristen, and his mother, Judy, are also going.

As of now, I’m planning to pick up my ticket either Sunday or Monday at the Russell Senate Office Building, at Constitution and Delaware avenues. I’m going to a party/gathering with other Dubois County folks on Monday evening (that was just set up by Bob Pfister). And I’m going to a party in Silver Spring Tuesday night with the Gleasons. It’s dressy, so I have to dig waaaaay in the back of my closet to find something to wear. I hope something is there. :-)

I’ve worked out my writing assignments from the jaunt, gathered a list of people from our county that’s going - I’m gladly surprised to learn that there are several - and just established this blog (thanks Daniel!).

i have some scrapbooking I need to get done before I leave. Plus, I’ve still gotta shop, wash, do my hair and pack - all before 8 a.m. tomorrow! Tonight will be a long night.

I’m really looking forward to this. I’ve been to the nation's capital a couple of times before, but this will be my first inauguration. And the historic nature of this one makes it even more special.