Barack and Roll, Baby

January 20, 2009

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The Cast:
Jen: redheaded teacher
Evan: cool philosopher
Alban: fun-loving musician
Cody: outdoorsy hilarity
Tommy: creative genius
Phil: groovy chef
Alan: world-traveling maniac
Alex: smart videographer
Christy: Obama organizer extraordinaire

The Crew:
Thanks to Obama for getting elected.
Thanks to Alban for organizing all of his friends to come out for a super-fun weekend!
Thanks to Ted and Beth for helping us figure out details and for lodging ideas and assistance.
Thanks to our congressmen and women who provided us all with tickets to this amazing event so that we didn’t have to huddle with the masses over a mile away.
Thanks to God for keeping us safe throughout the day and allowing everything to run smoothly every step of the way.

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So, who are you wearing?
New Balance Tennis shoes
1 pair Campmor ski/snowboard knee socks, 1 pair SmartWool socks on top
Campmor Thermal pants
Climate yoga pants
Gap jeans
Campmor Thermal long-sleeved shirt
Another long-sleeved shirt
Sufjan short-sleeved shirt (I thought the Illinois reference would be appropriate)
J. Crew wool sweater
Columbia ski jacket
A&E knit winter hat with earflaps
Alpaca wool scarf
Marmot gloves
= still freezing

The Schedule

12:00 midnight: I go to bed without having taken a shower because there is no hot water in the CUC girls’ dorm.

2:15 a.m. I wake up to take a shower with hot water, put on layers and pack up stuff

2:45 a.m. I go to the guys’ dorm to meet up with compadres

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Tommy demonstrates the silver “golden” ticket.

3:15 a.m. We leave for the Takoma Metro station

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Waiting inside the van at the Metro parking lot.

4:00 a.m. We get on the first train of the day, already crowded, then ride it to Union Station, all the while adding people into the extremely cramped but cheerful quarters

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Inside the metro car.

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4:30 a.m. We arrive in Union Station. Alan and Phil stay on the train to continue to their stop. We get out and walk the streets with many others already finding their way to their mall locations. We walk around the U.S. Capitol Building to arrive at our ticketed sites. Alban and Cody peel off to the blue gate while Evan, Tommy, Alex, and I continue to the silver gate.

5:00 – 7:45 a.m. We stand in “line” (more like a mass of thousands of people who don’t respond to repeated attempts by security/police to get them to form a better line) to get in to the silver ticketed area. These 3 hours consist mostly of standing and freezing. Some talking and joking and picture taking occurs, but mostly everyone is trying to survive the cold by retreating deeply into their heads and zoning.

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The “line” at the silver gate.

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Jen and Tommy at the silver gate.

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Alex and Evan circa 5:00 a.m.

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The Capitol before dawn.

7:45 – 8:00 a.m. We move through security to get into the silver area. Security consists of several guys in a row who say things like “Unzip your coat,” then look at your for 3 seconds, and say, “Okay, you’re good.” We then RUN to the front of our section to get to the best standing location and begin the long process of standing and freezing all over again.

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The view of the Capitol from our first silver location.

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Before Tommy left us to position himself for a quick getaway.

9:00 a.m. Our silver standing area is enclosed by a very small, insufficient plastic mesh fence. In front of our area is a road, on which there are several handicapped individuals sitting in wheelchairs. Immediately in front of the road is the reflecting pool. Someone off to our left decides that they will go through the fence. Suddenly, hundreds of people on the left are rushing forward like a herd of wild elephants to trample their fence, go around the reflecting pool, and get closer to the festivities. Our section of the silver area (possibly about 50,000-100,000 people) sees this possibility and slowly starts to emerge from cold-induced sleepiness into action. We start hearing people around us (we are at the front of this section) saying things like “Okay, let’s GO!” or “Let’s DO this, people!” and our crowd of frozen individuals becomes one large stampeding, living organism. We have no choice, we are swept along with the surge as with a tsunami. We trample our mesh fence and rush up to the edge of the reflecting pool in front of the Capitol Building. At one point I was afraid that everyone would just rush out onto it, but thankfully, they did not. The handicapped people on the road, however, were not happy with this turn of events. They are now surrounded by standing people and can no longer see. We do have a much better view from this vantage point.

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9:00-11:00 a.m. We stand, slowly freezing to death. I actually consider the chances of my fingers and toes being frostbitten. Around 10:00 a.m. or a bit before the band starts to play. I pity them with their lips to freezing cold brass and trying to stay in tune in the cold. The music wakes me from my fog of cold.

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11:00 a.m. Celebrities start to appear and are plastered all over the JumboTron. This revives us considerably. We see Dustin Hoffman, John Cusack, Arnold the Governator, then P.Diddy, Jay Z and Beyonce. This appearance starts a conversation around us. “Beyonce is so beautiful.” “Beyonce is so cool.” “Man, I just love Beyonce.” “Well, of course, because EVERYONE loves Beyonce.” Then a man turns around and says, “excuse me, but let me just clarify: not EVERYONE loves Beyonce.” That shut up that inane discussion. One person says, “Wow, I wish they had started showing us celebrities a long time ago! This is fun!” Commentary continues.

11:20 a.m. Everyone in our section has been waiting with saliva gathering lushly for the moment where they can boo George W. Bush. They have also been waiting with eager anticipation the first glimpse of Obama. Unfortunately for our crowd, the first sight of both was together. The crowd didn’t know what to do, so they cheered for Obama. But, many comments were made afterward, “They’d better show Bush by himself so we have our chance to boo.” Sure enough, the Bush families arrive. Barbara, George H.W., Jenna, Barbara, husband of one of them, Laura, etc. Booing commences. Joe Lieberman receives enormous boo from our section. Then, when George W. Bush finally steps out, the boos are extreme. Someone in the crowd starts singing “nah nah nah nah, nah nah nah nah, hey hey hey, goodbye!” It continues on and on, growing louder and louder. It seems to me, from my place, that all 2 million people are singing it. At that moment I felt really bad for him. I mean, even with so many horrible decisions and leadership, he did serve our country for 8 years, and it seems like the least we could have done was given him a courtesy clap, or even respectful silence. But, I guess the crowd was there to show Obama that they love and support him, and this was one way of doing that: showing how fed up they are of the way things have been run for 8 years, and demonstrating that they have renewed confidence and hope because of Obama.

11:35ish Obama comes out, along with the sun. Massive cheers. Tears.

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11:30-12:30 The ceremony was a beautiful thing. Highlights included some goofball antics by Supreme Court Chief Justice Roberts and dear new prez Barack cracking the whole thing up during the most solemn moment: the swearing in. Amazing John Williams arrangement of Simple Gifts played by Yo-Yo Ma, Itzhak Perlman, and awesome clarinetist (yay clarinet!) and awesome pianist (yay piano!). Really cool prayer at the end with some great quotable quotes.

12:30-1:15 Slowly making our way out of our ticketed area with the masses and finding our way back around and up Capitol Hill to meet at our designated cafe for hot chocolate and coffee. At this point Tommy, Alan, and Phil were making a mad dash for Union Station to try to make their 2:00 p.m. train to BWI for their 6 p.m. flight. They made it!

1:15-1:45 Drinking hot chocolate and debriefing on different perspectives

1:45-3:30 Wandering around DC looking for food, cool inauguration shirts, etc.

4:00 Exit city via metro for Takoma Station

Statistics:

2 million people (official count still unreleased)
8 degree F wind chill

Favorite Quotes:

From Obama’s Inaugural Address:

We remain a young nation, but in the words of Scripture, the time has come to set aside childish things.

As for our common defense, we reject as false the choice between our safety and our ideals.

To those leaders around the globe who seek to sow conflict, or blame their society’s ills on the West: Know that your people will judge you on what you can build, not what you destroy.

To those who cling to power through corruption and deceit and the silencing of dissent, know that you are on the wrong side of history; but that we will extend a hand if you are willing to unclench your fist.

And to those nations like ours that enjoy relative plenty, we say we can no longer afford indifference to suffering outside our borders; nor can we consume the world’s resources without regard to effect. For the world has changed, and we must change with it.

From the solemn then unexpectedly hilarious benediction by the Reverend Joseph Lowery:

“Lord, in the memory of all the saints who from their labors rest, and in the joy of a new beginning, we ask you to help us work for that day when black will not be asked to get back, when brown can stick around — (laughter) — when yellow will be mellow — (laughter) — when the red man can get ahead, man — (laughter) — and when white will embrace what is right.”

Elizabeth Alexander’s Inaugural Poem:

“Praise Song for the Day”

Each day we go about our business, walking past each other, catching each others’ eyes or not, about to speak or speaking. All about us is noise. All about us is noise and bramble, thorn and din, each one of our ancestors on our tongues. Someone is stitching up a hem, darning a hole in a uniform, patching a tire, repairing the things in need of repair.

Someone is trying to make music somewhere with a pair of wooden spoons on an oil drum with cello, boom box, harmonica, voice.

A woman and her son wait for the bus.

A farmer considers the changing sky; A teacher says, “Take out your pencils. Begin.”

We encounter each other in words, words spiny or smooth, whispered or declaimed; words to consider, reconsider.

We cross dirt roads and highways that mark the will of someone and then others who said, “I need to see what’s on the other side; I know there’s something better down the road.”

We need to find a place where we are safe; We walk into that which we cannot yet see.

Say it plain, that many have died for this day. Sing the names of the dead who brought us here, who laid the train tracks, raised the bridges, picked the cotton and the lettuce, built brick by brick the glittering edifices they would then keep clean and work inside of.

Praise song for struggle; praise song for the day. Praise song for every hand-lettered sign; The figuring it out at kitchen tables.

Some live by “Love thy neighbor as thy self.”

Others by “first do no harm,” or “take no more than you need.”

What if the mightiest word is love, love beyond marital, filial national. Love that casts a widening pool of light. Love with no need to preempt grievance.

In today’s sharp sparkle, this winter air, anything can be made, any sentence begun.

On the brink, on the brim, on the cusp — praise song for walking forward in that light.

Cheers:
Obama for being so cool.

Obama for having a poet read at his inauguration

The crowd for behaving themselves and being friendly and cheerful for the most part. No arrests or major incidents of note.

The band who played on tirelessly in the freezing cold

Jeers:

DC Security/Police who didn’t really seem to have a lot of organized information about how crowds/lines were to be handled, although most of the officers we spoke with were helpful and nice.

Whoever made the decision not to have enough JumboTrons

To the lack of cool flyover by jets with colored smoke trailing after them (probably for security concerns).

Summary:
Overall, it was an amazing experience, and I was so glad to be there. I am proud to live in a country where the peaceful transition of power is a regular part of government. I’m happy to have good friends to spend time with. I’m happy that at the end of a long, cold day, I have a warm house to come home to.

Fun at the Farm

I spent last weekend at the Farm, having an amazing time with the Howes and friends. Here are some highlight moments. Of course no winter trip to the Farm is complete without sledding and games.

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Jen’s Media Picks

I’ve put together a list of some of my favorite music, movies, TV shows, and books of 2008. Not all of these were new in 2008, but perhaps I was first introduced to them this year, or I rediscovered my love for them. Also, it’s very hard for me to think of life in calendar years since my very existence is defined by the school year, so I might include some from the last months of 2007. Some of these items were Christmas gifts from 2007, which means that most of my enjoyment from them came in the year 2008. Dear Reader, I’d love to hear your comments or some of your favorites!

Music
Even though I had known of and enjoyed many of these artists before last year, their new albums or singles contributed to and helped define the soundtrack of my year.

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Feist “The Reminder”
M83 “Saturdays = Youth”
Shane & Shane “Pages” (end of 2007)
The Weepies “Hideaway” and “Say I Am You”
Sufjan Stevens “Songs for Christmas” (end of 2007)
Coldplay “Viva la Vida”
Sigur Ros new album
Death Cab “Narrow Stairs”
Sara Bareilles “Little Voice”
Stars “In Our Bedroom After the War” (end of 2007), especially “Midnight Coward”
Goldfrapp “A&E”
BellX1 “Rocky Takes a Lover”
Yael Naim
John Mayer “Say”
The Ting Tings
Regina Spektor
A Fine Frenzy “One Cell in the Sea”
Fleet Foxes
Iron and Wine “The Shepherd’s Dog”
Glen Hansard and Markita Irglova
Jason Mraz

Television
I don’t watch a lot of television, but these are the few shows that I always looked forward to last year. They continue to be my favorites in the new year.

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Flight of the Conchords: why can I never decide between Bret and Jemaine? who is cuter? who is funnier? who is sweeter? every time the other one speaks, I change my mind. Maybe it’s Murray.
The Office: never fails to get me to laugh out loud. Jim and Pam stay sweet, Michael keeps the zingers coming, and the Dwight-Angela-Andy triangle maintains a sort of tension.
Grey’s Anatomy: admittedly, this has not been the best year for Grey’s. However, Derek and Meredith keep me coming back, no matter how ridiculous Izzy, George, and Callie become.
LOST: some crazy, crazy stuff. can I just say that I knew it was a flash forward before anyone else?
Top Chef: inspiring me to experiment and create new dishes. why, oh why, can’t they do a vegetarian episode?
SNL: the presidential campaign breathed new life into this old classic, and Tina Fey deserves every Golden Globe she ever receives
The Daily Show: Jon Stewart is smart, witty, quick, and hilarious. Indecision 2008 made for some great online watching.

Podcasts (best for listening on the plane or while putting up bulletin boards in my classroom)

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This American Life
Grammar Girl’s Quick and Dirty Tips
The Writer’s Almanac by Garrison Keillor

Movies

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Once: beautiful and realistic look at life in Dublin, gorgeous, moving music
Juno: smart, funny, sardonic, infinitely watchable Ellen Page makes this movie. Also, since the advent of Arrested Development a few years ago, Jason Bateman has become one of my absolute favorite actors
Darjeeling Limited: why do Wes Anderson films always make me think about life so much more deeply? poignant, funny, moving
Mongol: epic, gorgeous, melancholy picture about Genghis Khan, filmed in China and Mongolia, with subtitles. reminiscent of one of my favorite movies of all time: Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon
Prince Caspian: the ultimate letdown. nice special effects but dramatic and unwarranted changes to plot and point of the story. Susan: I’m disappointed in you. you are NOT in love with Caspian. sheesh! does everything have to have kissing?
Ironman: loads of pumped up fun. Robert Downey, Jr has always been intriguing to me, and I’m loving Gwyneth’s red hair! Is it too arrogant of me to imagine Gwyneth playing my role in Jennifer Payne: The Movie?
Indiana Jones: serious disappointment
Quantum of Solace: Daniel Craig rocks. And there will never be another Bond girl as alluring and lovable as Vesper. so sad
The Dark Knight: haunting. amazing.
Mamma Mia!: Loved it. Sure, parts are cheesy. But mostly it made me want to travel to Greece, dance in a huge chorus group, and sing catchy ABBA songs all day long
What Happens in Vegas: pretty much anything with Ashton Kutcher is going to get laughs from me. He’s just hilarious.
Get Smart: yes, I love the formulaic fun of cheesy spy-type movies, also, I go for anything with Steve Carell.
Australia: hard to put my finger on this movie. is it a spoof? is it truly an epic? either way, I enjoyed Nicole Kidman’s outfits and it made me miss my years of horseback riding.

(There are several movies that came out at the end of the year that I have yet been unable to see because of our stupid Hagerstown theater. They don’t play artsy, indie movies. They don’t play interesting movies. They mostly only play the blockbusters. I am still dying to see Slumdog Millionaire, The Reader, and Defiance. I also am slowly becoming more intrigued by The Curious Case of Benjamin Button. At first I thought it looked dumb, but the more previews I see, the more interesting it appears.)

Books: I didn’t read as many books this year as usual because my awesome photo project took up about 3 weeks of my summer (prime reading time), but the following books were notable.

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Atonement: powerfully sad story
Love in the Time of Cholera: heavy, intense prose
Man Walks into a Room: kind of haunted me
The Time Traveler’s Wife: couldn’t put it down. read the entire thing in 12 hours
Love Walked In: pretty lightweight, but still interesting
Brideshead Revisited: my favorite genre, my favorite period. So why was it so hard to get through?
Children’s books by E. Nesbit The Story of the Amulet, Five Children and It: classic turn-of-the-century British children’s literature, one of my favorite genres
Tuck Everlasting: fanciful children’s story about living forever
Bridge to Terebithia: did not like as much as I thought I would

I also re-read some favorites: The Chronicles of Narnia, the Anne of Green Gables series

Games: oh my goodness, we played so many games this year. Having Alban around helped significantly for any non-2-player games.

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Power Grid: the Paynes’ game of the year
Scramble: online with Facebook friends (mostly Daddy, Jason, and Megan). Turns out I’m way better at Scrabble than Boggle-type games

Posted in Fun

A part of history . . .

So, my dear Congressman Roscoe Bartlett chose my name out of his lottery of thousands to receive two tickets to the inauguration! When I received the news on Friday I was thrilled! What are the chances?! I have no idea, but I know that they were low. Jason doesn’t want to travel all day with the masses in the freezing weather, so Evan and I will be braving the cold to witness this extraordinary event. Stay tuned for some fantastic photos of the insane day.

So this was the old year . . .

Here’s a recap of major happenings from 2008:

January:
We start out the new year at Laurie Gauthier’s house & birthday party.
Jason settles in to his new home office
Lots of games and Rock Band with Alban

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February:
Farm Trip with the Howes
More games and Rock Band

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March:
Jason has a business trip to Chicago
Jen and Alban direct Senior Class Play
Jen goes on Scandinavia Tour

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April:
Spring! Cherry Blossoms!
Jason’s birthday bash
RockBand Endless Set List is conquered

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May:
Covenant Drama Home Show
Jen goes on Senior Class Trip to Myrtle Beach
Graduation
More games and bowling

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June:
Jen and Jason visit Paul and Alita in Ireland for wedding anniversary
Savannah Michelle Herr is born

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July:
Jen runs a 5K with Robby and Meredith, then says goodbye as they sadly move away
Jen relaxes on couch working on photo project while Jason works diligently in home office
Jason and Jen hang with Evan and Jenny in DC

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August:
Ocean City beach trip with Emily
Jen goes back to work

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September:
Work, work, work + a fun day with the Howes in DC

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October:
Justin and Katie visit, Megan visits

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November:
Alita visits
Yummy Thanksgiving with the Howes

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December:
Whirlwind Christmas season
Fun adventures with the Howes
Katie and Justin visit

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The Legend

For Christmas Dinner, Evan and Jason put together an amazing gourmet menu of delectable dishes, and then we all created different portions of the meal.

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Course One:
Butternut squash soup with cilantro garnish by Ted
Arugula, Red and green leaf lettuce salad with walnuts, fresh raspberries, feta cheese, fuji apples, and pomegranates, complete with blueberry pomegranate dressing by Jen (with help from Jenny and Alban)
Celadon Idol (drink): lime, pineapple juice, ginger beer, and Pellegrino flavored with cucumber and mint by Jen

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Course Two (a):
Four cheese (special cheese) lasagne by Evan and Jenny
Asparagus with leek, salt, pepper, and olive oil dressing by Evan and Jason
Fresh, roasted carrots by Evan and Jason
New Potatoes (idea by Jenny) created by Ted

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Course Two (b): Same as above with one major difference: Fresh poached salmon with an herb and caper vinaigrette by Evan and Jason

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Course Three: Hot fudge chocolate cake with raspberry drizzle by Beth
Ginger ice cream with mint garnish by Alban

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Course Four: Cheese platter

Grapes, crackers, and breads complete with several different kinds of cheeses for reflection and discussion.
English Stilton
Gorgonzola
Apricot Stilton
Cranberry Stilton
Gruyere
Irish Cheddar
Brie

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Thanks to everyone, but especially to Evan and Jason for their inspiration, for the most delicious meal of the entire year!

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The Happy Holidays

Even though we stayed home this holiday season, we were still able to visit with many loved ones over the last few weeks. Here are some photos of our good times.

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Some pretty cool people.

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Adam’s Birthday Party

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Alban’s Photo Shoot

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Black Rock Hike