Inaugumania? Inauguphobia?

It’s hard to say exactly what the state of mind is here in DC as we head into the weekend of Barack Obama’s inauguration. It seems to be equal parts festive (Historic event! Springsteen! Ten official ball appearances!) and fearful (Bridges closed! No more than 300k at the parade! Nowhere to pee!), and neither faction seems to have much of a clue as to what the next several days will bring.

I hate to say it, but I have a feeling that the outcome of all this frenzy is going to be disappointment. Every day brings a new “security” measure that seems almost guaranteed to cause as many problems as it solves. I’ve lived here for more than 10 years and the restrictions sound daunting even to me — and I have it fairly easy. I don’t have to walk more than a few miles to any of the venues, know the city well enough to find another entrance if the first (or second or third) checkpoint I find is too crowded, and have a reasonably good idea which of the Smithsonian museums will have the shortest restroom lines. If I were coming in from out of town, staying in a hotel in Northern Virginia, and planning to use Metro to get around… Well, I’d be quaking in my boots.

Now, I certainly understand that security is important, but some of the steps that have been announced are so extreme that they seem designed more to keep people away than anything else. Among the announced measures are closing all the Potomac crossings inside the beltway (that is: every bridge between DC and Virginia), shutting down four of the Metro stations closest to the Mall and ball locations, and making all attendees choose between the swearing-in and the parade (in the past, the crowd kind of moved from one to the other). I’m no expert — these all may be genius security and crowd-control measures, but they certainly read more like a plan to keep people from even bothering to try to attend.

(The weather, incidentally, isn’t helping. We’re in the midst of a good cold snap — it’s 10 degrees at the moment — and it’s not expected to be much above freezing by Tuesday — the warmest day of inauguration weekend. Gah!)

I haven’t given up on it though — I’ve got a reasonably heavy slate of celebratory activities scheduled for the next few days, provided that my first foray into spending a sustained amount of time out in the cold doesn’t send me back to the sofa with my kleenex. (Fingers crossed.)

More on my plans tomorrow…

10 thoughts on “Inaugumania? Inauguphobia?

  1. Sionna January 16, 2009 / 11:31 am

    I am SO glad that I decided (or rather my finances and jacked-up plane ticket prices did) to NOT come down for the Inauguration.

    It sounds like a crowd-control nightmare to me. I cannot imagine how you DC residents are handling this. I think I would just stock up on food and hunker down for a few days. But that’s me. 😉

    I HATE huge crowds and have this fear of being crushed to death, probably thanks to my petite stature…brings back horrible memories of our trip to Lilith Fair where that Really Nice Guy plucked me up out of the crush of people. I really thought that I was done for.

    Anyhoo…good luck getting around next week. Take LOTS of pictures!!! I say that your blog becomes a quasi-photo album next week no matter what Eileen thinks. 😉

  2. Hillary January 16, 2009 / 11:39 am

    Good luck to you. As a resident of Virginia I got the message loud and clear that I should stay home so i’ll just watch on TV and be warm while doing so.

  3. Eileen January 16, 2009 / 12:44 pm

    (@ Hillary – Please don’t feel that way.)

    I’m guessing it is that proximity dicatates the bridges in VA as the fastest escape route from the city for the thousands on foot…you know, just in case. Having lived through 9/11 in my beloved DC and watching the chaos on that day, perhaps there is sound reasoning behind this action. I just hate to think that this is the reality of our world today. But having a plan seems reasonable and responsible, albeit, inconvenient. (and better than plastic wrap and duct tape)

    And when it comes to check points, etc. I assume the powers that be will do more than when Chris and I went (which must have been in 2000?). They used that silly bright orange plastic fencing and super cheap/flimsy wood fencing, which all look ridiculous trampled on the ground. And if that is what they use, have no fear you’ll be able to get from point A to point B just like we did.

    As for me with the inauguration, I have had a very sad realization here in Texas…here it is really just another Tuesday. Nothing is closed. No one is stopping normal life to celebrate our new president, our democracy. And that makes me really sad. I was thinking to have a party, and then I realized, I have to work, and so do my friends. But I’m actually taking the day off. And will invite my stay-at-home mom friends to join me. We live in the best country in the world and I want to celebrate that – and our new administration 🙂

  4. Eileen January 16, 2009 / 12:53 pm

    @ Shannon (and Sarah)
    I love the pictures. I also appreciate Sarah’s thoughts (and it helps me keep up on the day-to-day with her)…it’s really a compliment not a complaint.

  5. Mom January 16, 2009 / 2:26 pm

    Time for me to weigh in — you all have valid points! It is a shame that our presence and feelings have to be so constrained and “secured” — I plan to watch as much of it as possible on television and plan to say a prayer early on in the day that becasue “we” are prepared, there will be no reason for it. I so wish more of the celebration could be spontaneous, but guess those days are over.

  6. Joanne January 16, 2009 / 5:13 pm

    I am basically depressed about this whole weekend at this weekend.

    Even though I don’t feel like I am unwelcome despite the bridge crossings (but Hillary is not alone in that feeling), the weather, crowds and my inability to understand emails, my sum total participation in this historic event is the party I’m having on Tuesday to watch the ceremony and parade. No balls because I waited too long to get a ticket; its going to be g-d cold to go to the awesome concert; and I wouldn’t DREAM of attempting the swearing in at this point.

    What kills me about the cold is, as Sarah and Sionna will remember, I used to spend three hours once week, at night, in upstate NY, in the winter in an unheated barn riding horses. But now, man, I CANNOT handle the cold. I’m getting old.

  7. Mom January 16, 2009 / 6:01 pm

    @ Joanne — YOU are not getting OLD! I’ve watched all my sibs and my kids (3 each) move to warmer climes and become wimpy about the cold they grew up in. All expect me to stay home when it gets cold and/or slippery and/or snowy. You all never did! Your blood just thins when your atmosphere changes. So, que up to the telly on Tuesday and don’t feel guilty 🙂

    If we want to talk “cold” I’m waiting for Common Loom to weigh in — if they are not FROZEN in Minneapolis, that is………

  8. sionna January 16, 2009 / 9:08 pm

    I was just joshing you Eileen….:)

  9. common loon January 17, 2009 / 10:12 am

    I’m back. Yes, the ugly cold is over and we will be outside today, likely without hats, mitts, or zipped coats – maybe even just a sweatshirt – as it will be ABOVE ZERO!!!!! It may approach freezing on Tuesday, and I may actually don some shorts for the photo opp. Incidentally, middle nephew only zipped his coat and wore a hat one day this pasy week, and youngest refused to wear a coat to/from the doctor on Wednesday (it was -15 w/o windchill).

    But the important stuff…just make sure to celebrate (at home or away). Given the fact that people routinely speed, don’t pick up after their pets, party LOUDLY into the 5 am hour in suburbia, what is and is not allowed in your airplane carry-on (and what consistitutes a carry-on) and that there are laws and cautions about all of this stuff…I doubt that every party-attender will be up to speed on all the “special” edicts, etc. Probably a lot of ESL-folks, too. If you go, just wear layers. HAVE A BLAST!!!!! No Regrets!

    And if you stay home, no guilt! I used to feel that way about not actually being present at the Army-Navy game, but heck – it’s so much more fun in a climate-controlled environment with buddies, yummy food, and a nice clean bathroom 🙂 I still make some good memories.

  10. Chris January 18, 2009 / 1:12 am

    “I hate to say it, but I have a feeling that the outcome of all this frenzy is going to be disappointment.”

    Are you just talking about the next few days?

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