Thursday, January 22, 2009

Problem solved!

Et voila!

G's gentleman friend has solved my problem and thus earned the right to be called by his name--which would be Ryan--on this here blog.

I can now support my team with my heart, my terrible towel, and incessant renditions of "Here We Go Steelers."

Tuesday, January 20, 2009


I went alone.

That wasn’t the plan. Val and I were supposed to go together, as Ed was working. But at about 8pm last night, she called with the news that she had a scored a ticket through Ed.

On to plan B! I called Nick and Shelley. We made arrangements to meet up at 8:15am. I was ready to roll. Clothes were laid out. Necessities—cash, Chapstick, keys, Metro card, granola bars, camera, cell phone—were neatly tucked in coat pockets, to avoid having to carry a purse.

At 11:15, I had just turned out the light when my cellphone rang. “Um, Hannah?” It was Shelley. “We sort of…just got tickets.”

So I was on my own, or at least I’d have to wait until tomorrow to see who else would be headed downtown, and where they’d be.

I got on the Metro at 7:40am. It was full, but not the sardine tin that I’d anticipated.
A few minutes after 9am, after 30 minutes on the Metro and nearly an hour of trekking—the long way, since 7th and 14th Streets were not, as previously announced, open to cross the Pennsylvania Avenue parade route—around the parade route and down to the Mall, I found a spot on the Washington Monument grounds, facing the Capitol, with an easy view of a jumbotron, which was replaying the We Are One concert from Sunday afternoon. My attempt to walk down the Mall to get closer to the Capitol was foiled by the ubiquitous security forces, who had closed off the Mall because it was already full.
DAR Constitution Hall, where Marian Anderson was banned from singing
in 1939, leading to her famous concert on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial
I texted a bunch of people to see who was down on the Mall. And! CZ! Guess where she was? At the Washington Monument! For about ten seconds, I thought about trying to find her, before I realized that the odds of spotting someone in the hundreds of thousands already surrounding the monument was slim to none. So I stayed put. Over the next hour, the Washington Monument grounds also filled to capacity, and by around 10, I was so wedged in that I had to say “excuse me” to the guy next to me whenever I raised my arm to take a photo or attempt a text message.
I couldn't raise my arms, so the guy next to me
took this (very close up) photo.
Was it weird being alone? No, and it was kind of great. The mood was buoyant, with people conversing with their neighbors and waiting patiently for the festivities to begin. I was temporarily adopted by two huge black men who stood next to me, one a pastor (Pastor Willie from a church in NE Washington) and his friend, visiting from Brooklyn for the occasion. They provided their own commentary for most of the day and, as the crowd jostled around, made sure I could see. A group of 30-something scientists—all of them quite tall, except for one girl who perched on a crate—stood in front of me (until Pastor Willie and his friend shifted around so I could see). Another gentleman stood to my left and did not open his mouth the entire time.

The view behind me. Note that the crowd
stretches up around the Washington Monument.
The crowd cheered as various dignitaries and VIPs took their seats on the platform. The biggest cheers were received by Ted Kennedy, Jimmy Carter, and—twice the volume of anyone else—Bill Clinton. I helped my neighbors identify people as they were introduced.

“Who’s that?” “That’s Joe Biden’s mother.”
“Who’s that? He looks familiar?” “Howard Dean.” “Oh, right.”
“Who are those girls?” “The Bush twins.” “But who’s the guy with them?” “That’s Jenna’s husband, Henry Hager.”
“HEY, Beyonce! And there’s Diddy!” (They didn’t need my help for those.)

But then the crowd spotted Malia and Sasha Obama, and they went BERSERK.
And then Michelle. More hollering.
And then the President-Elect himself. Flags waved wildly. The noise was deafening. “O-BA-MA! O-BA-MA!”
So. Many. People.
Aretha took the stage, prompting more cheers from the crowd, plus comments on her festive topper. “That,” said Pastor Willie, “is a Sunday-go-to-meetin’ hat.”

As soon as the oath was complete, the crowd went nuts again. Everybody was hugging everybody else. People pulled out their cameras and photographed or videotaped the scene. Tears were plentiful. It was a joyous moment.
Obama takes the oath.
Getting home was an adventure in itself. The crowd oozed slowly toward the exit points, with no one able to tell where the exit points actually were and just hoping that the crowd was going in the right direction. (It was a well-behaved ooze, though. “This is the ruliest crowd I’ve ever seen,” said one guy during the exodus. “Ruliest?” “Yeah, opposite of unruliest.” And he was right. All day, massive crowds were inescapable, and things were confusing, and people had to walk A LOT. And stand in a tiny amount of space for A LONG TIME. And people were calm and pleasant and go-with-the-flow about everything. It was remarkable.) We slowly oozed off the monument grounds, then up Constitution to Virginia Ave to 23rd Street. And from there I walked north to Dupont, where I bought a newspaper, hopped on the Metro (amazingly, with no trouble or delay), and got home around 2:15.
The crowd oozes, at a glacial pace, past idling tour buses.
It was tiring. I am sore. My toes are still a little numb. But I would not have missed it for the world, and I will not soon forget it.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Take a break from Obamamania to contemplate this:

So I have a problem. I know exactly one song about the Steelers, which I learned for their last Super Bowl appearance, but it is no longer applicable.

1) "Cowher Power" is no longer relevant. And nothing rhymes with Tomlin.
2) They already got one for the thumb. "Pittsburgh's gonna get one for the other hand now" doesn't quite work.

We have two weeks to work on a suitable alternative. Thinking caps on!

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Dude Moments

People often get reflective around the new year. I don’t like to conform, of course, so it has taken me until the 14th day of the year to get there.

When we were in London, Ed and I had these things that we called “Dude Moments.” These were instances when we would suddenly realize where we were or what we were doing and one of us would stop and say, “Dude… Can you believe we’re here?” Given the number of new and awesome experiences that semester, we had a lot of Dude Moments.

Anyway, do you ever have one of those moments? The ones where you think to yourself, ‘Dude. How great is this?’ I’ve been doing that a lot recently. I have a wonderful family; friends who I can count on and who make me laugh; a rewarding and challenging job; a great little apartment of my own in a city I love; and a lot of good books. I mean, really, what else is there?

I have these moments fairly regularly, which I think makes me a pretty lucky person. Just this year, I’ve probably had hundreds, but there have been a few that I can remember in the last several months (some of which I’ve already talked about, notably November 4, 2008, when much of the country was having a collective Dude Moment), and—in the interest of reflection and whatnot—I shall share them with you now.

1) October 30, 2008: I sat in a small room in the U.S. Supreme Court with 190 other people, among them the Justices of the Supreme Court, Plácido Domingo, and other local and government persons-of-interest, listening to Renée Fleming sing “Deep River,” and thinking, “How on earth did I end up here?”

2) August 29, 2008: Lola the Corolla was at full capacity as I drove back from BWI with a car full of people, a trunk full of luggage, and six conversations going on at one time—which was saying something since there were just five of us—me, Jules, Miguel, Ash, and Jason—in the car. The Trio, once inseparable, is spread across the country now, but our annual rendezvous is a joyous event—and a loud one.

3a) December 21, 2008: I stood in the choir loft at my home church, with Mom on my left, Dad on the podium, a full orchestra in front of me, and the glorious sounds of the Munsey choir seriously bringing it on Handel’s Messiah, when suddenly, the glorious sound of a trumpet—and one, in particular, that I’d know anywhere—burst forth from behind me. It surprised the hell out of me (though I’m not sure why, because what self-respecting choir director forgets to hire a trumpet player for the Hallelujah Chorus? Certainly not my father!), but brought the biggest smile to my face. (Also bringing a smile to my face? When my father, five bars from the end of the piece, snuck a peek at his watch while conducting. What, you can't wait another ten seconds?)
3b) December 25, 2008: I considered not mentioning this, since it happens every year, but whatever. Christmas Eve worship is my absolute, undisputed favorite two-hour period of the entire year, from beginning to end. It also happens to be the one time of the year when I want to be a soprano. It wouldn’t be Christmas without G rolling her eyes at me as I squeak my way through the descants. And at the end, in the first few minutes of Christmas Day, hundreds of candles are lifted skyward simultaneously on the final stanza of “Joy to the World,” and I literally get chills.

4) November 18, 2008: The Israel Philharmonic performed at the Kennedy Center, conducted by Gustavo Dudamel, and it was, bar none, one of the most incredible musical experiences I’ve ever had. Aside from the stellar performances of Tchaikovsky’s 4th and Brahms’ 4th symphonies, the orchestra began first with the national anthem—and, of course, many people sang along. But then they launched into the national anthem of Israel—a gorgeous, haunting melody—and, amazingly, much of the audience sang along with that, too! It was a powerful moment, and one I’m not likely to forget anytime soon.

5) October 14, 2008: At her request, we kept the festivities for Val’s birthday small this year—just a low-key dinner with her, Ed, J, and me. Since J doesn’t live here anymore, it was the first time in a long while that just the four of us had spent any time together since the Roommate (Plus Val) Dinners that we regularly had at the River Road house, and it was fabulous. Thus, they were the perfect three people to spend the first few (awake) hours of 2009 with at brunch on New Year’s Day.

So anyway, there it is. 2009 will bring many new challenges, adventures, trips, and people. Oh, and weddings. Lots of weddings. But ’08 was a good year. Thanks to all those who were along for the ride.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Testing the waters

I have no idea what's gotten into me today, but I both a) signed up for Twitter, and b) commented on not one but TWO blogs. Of people I don't actually know! (Though I feel like I do, and I have linked to at least one of them on here before.)

No longer a cyber-wallflower am I. Perhaps this will increase my readership into double digits.

Monday, January 12, 2009


...while discussing Pink (the singer) at lunch today
Jenny: I'm suspicious of people who identify that strongly with a particular color.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Legen---wait for it.....


I'm not particularly a fan of Saturday Night Live, though I will tune in occasionally if there's a particularly interesting host (Peyton Manning totally has a comedy career ahead of him if that football thing doesn't work out) or when it's timely (most of the 2008 election cycle). But I will totally be watching tomorrow night, because GUESS WHO'S HOSTING??

NEIL PATRICK HARRIS, that's who! The 11:30pm to 1:00am slot in my planner is BOOKED.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Feliz New Year, ohkeh

Hello! Happy New Year, and all that. 2009 is here, and I'm in a funk because I have to work five full days this week, which I haven't done in a while. I'm trying to focus on the 2009/10 brochure, but I'm losing the battle, so here I am, blogging. It's been a while, I know.

Anyway, the holiday break was lovely. I escaped to Tennessee on the 20th, where I did assorted things:
  • sang Messiah the Sunday before Christmas. I did quite well, too, considering I haven't sung it in about five years.
  • watched the Steelers lose to the Titans. Not so fun, actually.
  • had a Weather Report Duel with G's gentleman friend, entertaining my father in the process. [SIDE NOTE: Apparently, G's gentleman friend thinks that I'm intimidating. Is this true? (picture intense stare here) I found it rather surprising, given that was wandering around in pink sweatpants and festive Christmas monkey socks for most of the time he was at our house.]
  • had several old friends over for an Impromptu Holiday Gathering (not to be confused with a H&G's Christmas Extravaganza, which we did not have this year).
  • successfully avoided setting foot in the mall.
  • experienced A Christmas Miracle (in addition to, you know, the birth of Jesus), about which I will post at a later date.

Then, on Christmas Day, we ventured north to West Virginia, where we spent a few days with my grandparents, great aunt, Mom's sister, and three awesome cousins. It was, as always, a fun and rather loud time.

I drove home on Sunday after Christmas listening to the Steelers on the radio, turning it on just after Ben Roethlisberger's frightening hit. "...spinal injury.....sure was hit hard....He's been down for more than ten minutes now.... not moving.... these are the kind of moments that professional athletes try not to think about."

I celebrated the New Year mostly by eating. A BITTER cold New Year's Eve was spent at an epic--yet lively!--dinner with Ed and Val, followed by a party at a friend's house. Val and I spent the final hour of 2008 checking our watches ("Twenty minutes....eleven minutes... five minutes...") and plotting a quick escape after the ball dropped. I was in bed by one. The next day, the three of us and J had brunch, which was followed by a lengthy afternoon nap and then pork, sauerkraut, and the Rose Bowl at Ed and Val's. It was a great way to start the year--good foot, good friends, and, well, a pretty unexciting football game.

Anyway, I'm now back at work "for real," since last week was a series of rather short days (every day, BC ambled by around 3pm: "You can go home. Nobody's here.") and one food-filled holiday. It's been a bit of an adjustment, but I'm getting back in the swing of things.

One of my resolutions this year is not to abandon you, my loyal readers, for weeks at a time. I shall try to do better!