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InDogural Ceremony

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Alone on the couch, watching. Wishing I'd kept Phoebe and Liam home from school to watch this with me, this thing as miraculous as a butterfly emerging from a chrysalis

but ever so much rarer. So rare that it has never happened before.

I was all right until Barack came down the Capitol "crypt," the long dark passageway he had to traverse before he could come out into the light and see the multimillion-soul march that had come to cheer him into office. I saw the look on his face and tears spilled out unbidden.

It was all locked up in that implacable gaze, that set jaw. No Drama Obama is well-named, but I could see it all there.

I was all right until he passed beneath the camera and I looked at his smooth head and started to pray fervently and aloud that all of us, Democrat, Republican, Independent, voter and non-voter, sane and psychotic alike will grant him the time on earth to tackle the fearsome and almost incomprehensible job before him.

Protect this man, this husband to Michelle and father to two sweet girls who is suddenly charged with lifting a nation out of the deepest pit of depression.

At this point Chet Baker decided that I probably needed a toy to play with.
I tussled with Chet and pulled myself back together for awhile until Aretha got up and sang the song that Martin Luther King predicted would one day speak to black people, too.

My Country, 'tis of Thee.It is her country now, more than it has ever been. Mine, too, more than ever. She was playing ita little safe, not going for the stratospheric high notes any more, and as a singer I understood. She is no longer young, but she was as amazing as ever, and she moved many millions of hearts. Her voice was colored with emotion.

And Chet Baker thought at that point that I probably needed someone on my lap to hug.

And kiss. Pucker up, Mether. Stop crying. Th' Bacon is here.

And although I am jaded enough to be immune to the one-of-each-color kind of multiracial grandstanding that goes on at events like this, the pairing of Israeli-American immigrant,


and Chinese American musicians playing an air around our Shaker hymn "Simple Gifts" brought me to my knees. I have had a crush on Yo-Yo Ma since he was a resident tutor at my Harvard dorm. I was too shy to so much as knock on his door, but I had pictures of him plastered all over my little cell wall. And there he was playing his carbon-fiber cello because it was too cold for his ancient treasured cello, and I saw him mouth the word, "COLD!" and laugh, and he didn't stop smiling the whole time. Bam, right back in love. And he still doesn't know.

And Barack listened and closed his eyes the better to hear the music and I knew that this man would try even in the darkest time to give the arts their due, for the first time in what seems like forever.

And then it was time for the oath and I laughed and jumped around because I couldn't sit still any more. I loved that the Chief Justice flubbed it and I loved it when Barack jumped in right where he should have, saying, "I, Barack..." and they were stepping all over each other and smiling. It was like wedding vows, almost, where everyone is way too nervous to get it right.

But getting it wrong is somehow perfect.

Bill called from Florida at that moment and said simply, "Amazing." And I wished so hard that he was home with me for this moment.

By this time I have brought the big box of Puffs Ultra to the couch and I'm grabbing them with my right hand and making a pile of crumped up ones like white roses all over the cushion to my left.

And then Barack observes that sixty years ago his father couldn't have gotten served in a restaurant in Washington, and now his son is taking the oath. And I put my face in my hands with the realization of how very far we have come in one man's lifetime.

and Chet decides it is time again for his peppermint bone that's too squishy to shred, and is very special.
It does help to have a toy to play with when you see a living carpet of happy humanity, of people who believe in this man and are here to give him their love and support. The largest crowd ever to assemble on Washington, bigger than the Million Man March, bigger by far than the march to "protect marriage"; bigger than anything anyone has ever seen.

I told you a toy would help with all your crying. I do not see anything to cry about here.

Chet Baker, these are happy tears. It's a girl thing. You wouldn't understand.

La la la la la I can't hear you. Just throw the bone and I will bring it back to you and you will soon forget all your troubles.

There. Now that you have calmed down I can do some real chewing.

Are you sure you're all right, Mether?

I'm fine, Chet. Thank you. Happy January twentieth.


Great coverage Julie!!!

beautifully said!

Amen, sister.

I think the whole world watched, holding their breath today, cautiously hopeful. What a day.
In Canada,
Heather (who LOVES Yo-Yo Ma, too)

You weren't crying tears of joy alone Julie. I was at work in front of the computer sobbing from time to time. Your prayer for this man and all he has to do is echoed in many hearts and minds today.

an amazing day; thanks for sharing; I only wish Obama and the incredible team he's assembled wasn't going to have to spend SO MUCH time/effort swabbing up the unholy mess left behind by his predecessor (imagine what he could accomplish if THAT weren't the case)!

Ah, but would Obama be in office right now if Bush hadn't rushed a stunned country to war, treated the environment as if Armageddon were right around the corner, incurred the wrath of our allies, and played so thoroughly into Big Oil's hands? I believe it had to get this bad for real change to have a chance.

Incredibly well said.

I loved your blog. It made me laugh and it made me cry. My pup also tried consoling me and distracting me. I told him over and over I was fine. We will all be fine. All we have to do is try.

Wonderful coverage!
loved the whole thing and the doggie interruptions...
I agree with your comment..I think it all came together so that this could happen!

We had such similar experiences; tears at the same time, heartbreak over the beauty (physical and sonic) of Yo-Yo Ma. I was right there with you.

Thanks for chronicling this as you did....

And amen.

All so well-put, Julie. It was also not lost on me the make-up of that group playing the John Williams air. The thing I loved the most about Obama's speech was how I got so absorbed in what he was saying that I forgot about him being a black man. It's important and historic, no doubt, but he reminds us all that he is one of us, regardless of the color of his skin. I hope he can inspire the world to remember that.

Was touched by your statement/wish
"Protect this man". A thought, a worry, a fear in the back of many minds. Oh how I hope & pray that . . .
But every inauguration is emotional in its own way and filled with pride for our county.

I was home for a snow day. I watched all day and cried, too. I really lost it when Barack and Michelle's high school bands marched before them. Chloe on one side, Bella on the other side of me, they snored. The Marine Corp Band did it to me again.

It was a great day in Washington and around the world!

My thought/concern also is "protect him and his family".


I was feverishly taking photos of the TV, too! And the dogs were barking at the back door and I was all like, "Hey! Shut up! Obama is on, dammit!"
: )

Glad you had Chet to keep it all together.

Beautifully said. If only you could do commentary on TV.
I watched the main events in a classroom with 2 classes of kindergarten children, and I needed my hankie in my hand.
The kids absorbed the moods of the ceremonies and cheered when the crowd cheered and clapped earnestly when the crowd did so.
Sometimes I despair that my generation has not changed the world like we thought we would.
Today I took heart; important things have changed.
in Pittsburgh

Wow--in addition to all the other marvelous attributes Chet Baker has, he is a very perceptive dog where human emotions are concerned.
And he brought you a toy!

Seriously, I watched alone too--and kept welling up. I loved the arrangement on "Simple Things". And noticed the multi-ethnic quartet.

What a day this has been!

Well done. It would have been excellent without the weaving of Chet and his pictures, because the writing is so fine and WE could not miss what we did not know ... but thank you for the Chetnical infusion anyway.

Poignantly spoken.

I watched with the 9th Grade Civics class I work with. Even they were impressed with certain parts of the ceremony and were quietly respectful, not truly grasping the enormity of what they were seeing.

Caroline in the Black Hills

I'm glad you had Baker for company--and glad you were home to be able to watch what, I'm sure, I'll never experience again.
I think you're right, too, in Bush's setting the stage for change.

Maybe in desperation, allowing allows people to give Obama a chance, where they might not otherwise.

Amen, Julie, Amen!

Julie, your commentary is perfect. WOW! What a day! I must use my favorite word - it was a GLORIOUS day!

The world is bursting with joy!



You said it all, m'dear. Amen.

Thank you for so eloquently expressing exactly how I felt yesterday. It's good to know that it wasn't just me and my hormones causing all those tears. lol

I wish I'd kept my 1st grader home, too! My preschooler asked if that was my "sad face" when he saw the tears running down my face!

It was breathtaking and awe inspiring, and one could almost feel the shift... for once, it really felt like we were all on the same page. Glorious. Simply magical it was.

I have yet to watch the inauguration (I had class- they should have canceled it for such a pivotal moment!) but after reading this I am definitely watcing it on CNN tonight. That is extraordinary that you were down the hall from Yo Yo Ma... I used to play the cello and whenever I needed motivation to keep practicing I would just listen to him for hours (of course, I never ended up sounding like him!). He seems like such a cool guy.

Ohhh dear, Yo Yo Ma. To be sure, I wasn't sure how much I would like the John Williams arrangement of "Simple Gifts" (I always hear the Copeland version in "Appalachian Spring" when you post your landscapes, Julie) but I loved it in the end. Great pictures, how wonderful you had someone to offer toys through the event!

On a slightly mood-jarring "Photo Chimp" note: when photographing a TV screen, if you set your camera to shutter priority and set the shutter speed to 1/30 second or slower, you will avoid the dark "scan bars" that appear in some of your pictures.

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