January 21, 2009

JANUARY 20, 2009. 11:41pm EST

What a day…what a day.  It can simply be summed up in 2 pictures, scenes from a port-o-potty visit:


An standard embossed logo on the door...hmm...


And some George Bush toilet paper on the floor.

We woke up at 6 and were out of the door by 7am.  Our tactical Plan A to get to the mall, quickly collapsed into Plan B, which crumbled into Plan C, all in about 15 minutes. Plan C was to take the bus all the way in to the city-as far as it could go at least (many of the streets and bridges were closed already). 


Us on the bus


On the bus

The bus driver didn’t even know how far she could take it, but we all figured, as long as we get closer then we were, then we’re happy. To everyone’s cheer, the bus driver got the green light to go over the bridge into the city, so our walk to the mall was only about a mile. I love public transportation, I really do.

It was all fun and games, until we could see the sun rising behind the Washington Monument…that’s when the importance and the gravity of this day hit me.


Walking into a monumental day

We walked to the Washington Monument (the halfway point of the mall), and decided that this was where we’d stay; Where the real fans are. 🙂 


Walking to our spot


I took this shot from Airforce One.


It had a decent vantage point of a big screen, and the front half of the mall looked packed already (about 8:30am). 


the view from our spot

The sea of people on the mall were friendly, happy, and down right giddy. It was cold (about 30 dees grees)too, so it was totally normal to just start dancing or jumping every few minutes.  I noticed many people even had their own strange jingles to the words “Barack Obama” that would just come out sometimes. For the 2 hour waiting period, they replayed Sunday’s concert, and everyone was singing along to “American Pie” and jumping around to “Shout”; a real love in. We (and I mean we the people) could not wait. And the people just kept coming–that in itself was a sight. The anticipation was palpable.




The sea of people behind us. We couldn't even see the sea of people in front of us.


Now the good stuff.  At the first glimpse of Michelle, we all cheered. The first time Barack hit the big screens, we all went crazy.  There he was. Our man. The first time Bush hit the big screen, boos all around.  Cheney=moans, and jokes about his wheelchair (he messed up his back while he was moving).  And during the ceremony, when they formally announced Bush, the boos were all we could hear!  I don’t know if he could hear them, or if this translated onto the TV coverage, but it was about 2 million folks booing.  A guy next to us joked that our cover was “oh no, we were just saying boooooooosh”.  haha.  And then, in waves, we all sang “na-na-na-na, na-na-na-na, hey hey he-ey, go-od-bye”. It was a regular Laker game out there. Not the classiest of moves, but damn, that guy really screwed us over. And he was in front of the wrong crowd, on the wrong day.


Not the classiest move either--but funny shit.

We all laughed in unison about the way Bishop Gene Robinson said “May-LEE-ahhhhhh” and “SASH-aaaaaah”-that was just weird.

Aretha was the voice for the day. I wasn’t sure about that choice, until I heard her sing the first note–and then I remebered her voice and what she has seen and how her voice defines America and a movement. I still secretly hoped that SHE (not Garth) would pull the record scratch moment in the cafe, and start singing SHOUT!


Another shot of the people behind us

And when he was sworn in, that is when the mall erupted. This was the moment we had all been waiting for. THAT was the moment.

Ok, the speech. This was the most anticipated part for me and here’s my untainted opinion ( I haven’t watched an media coverage yet): It was not the speech I wanted.  I was hoping for that sound byte kind of speech “ask not what your country can do for you…” “yes we can” style. I wanted the Obama I voted for: the charasmatic, likeable Superman with a smile.  What we got was a man in charge, the man with the plan; as my brother says “authoritative”. But, you know what-it was real, it was honest, and it was needed. And I am proud of his speech, because we have all already drinken the kool-aid.  We don’t need more. We have a catch phrase, a unity, a purpose. We need a leader we can belive in, and we need action, pronto. An action-figure we can believe in, as the box says.



Cheering to the big screen. The capital is really far away--behind that tree in the middle of this pic, tiny.

Rev. Joseph Lawry’s ending of “black to get back, brown to stick around, yellow to get mellow, red man to get ahead, man, and white to get it right” was one of my favorite moments.

OK, and now here’s where the levees broke. It took at least an hour to get off of the mall…


This is our view when leaving the mall. Daunting.


Really? How are we going to get out of here!?

Our feet were frozen from standing int he cold for hours.  We were hungry. and tired. The crowd was still fun–but the spirits were waning.  There were some folks who decided to traverse the crowds by walking on the roofs of the port-o-potties; they got big cheers.


The port-o-potty ninjas.

 And when Bush’s helicopter flew out over the mall–everyone waved and started singing “na-na-na-na…” again.  classic. Good times, but really just a few fleeting moments for us to forget that were freezing and stuck.

We finally made our way to the wharf, to get a bite, and were were like the 1000th poeple with that idea. So we went for the metro, and not a chance in hell was that going to happen. The crowds were large, tired, annoyed…I think I heard that the metro was not working (which made sense becuase people were just stopped), and all the roads and bridges were still closed; so basically were were all trapped.


This was the entrance to a metro station-presumably, per rumors, service stopped for a while.

And by “we were all stuck”, I mean probably close to a million people.? We heard that people were being treated for hypothermia-and that there were many. We stood in line for 45 mintues for a hot dog, and cradled the warm foil to warm our hands.


Our saviour-the hot dog cart. and Obama.

 This is about 2pm now. This is TWO hours after it was over, and not near the parade route. These people are trying to get out!  The district’s planning and communication of the plan seemed to have melted down.


We made our way into the Air and Space Museum, just to get some warmth, and it was like a shelter. People were sick, cold, and tired. 


Scenes from the refugee camp, I mean the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum.


"so, we can put a man on the moon, but..."

So, we all just camped out on the floor. I took a  couple of disco naps.  By about 5pm, the metro seemed to be flowing, and we made it home by about 6:30. 

The banter on the metro ride home was comforting and refreshing. People were sharing opinions of the day “it’s nice to have a president we can be proud of”, more jokes about Cheney-being Darth Vader like, talk of Obama’s jump shot and Michelle’s brother, the comment that there was a time where we would have not been allowed to have this conversation we were having, seat offerings to the elderly–all perfect strangers, of all races from all places, sharing thoughts about our common thread of Obama, and the big day. Ah, THESE were the soundbytes I was looking for. hmm…  This is why I like public transportation–it is common ground, and it keeps us human.

To end, the amount of lost gloves on the streets today was astounding. They were all over, all day. And once we were stuck in DC, I decided to pass some time and started taking pictures:







Kind of sad, like an unmatched sock. And you imagine each person’s reaction when they realized they have lost a glove. But today, I think it is best to think that they are all waving goodbye to Booooooooooosh!

Congratulations to all of us!




  1. Your brother (Tom) said

    Very nicely stated Andrea. You captured it all.

  2. Reg said

    Good morning Obama-girl,

    Thank you so much for allowing us on your OBAMA FEVER trip. Obama & I are very proud of your selfless reporting and your “why not” attitude. It embodies what this country yearns for, change.

    Love ya,
    Dad (Reg)

  3. kimberly said

    thanks so much for the great play by play! i wish i could’ve been there with you!! i listened to it on the radio on the way in and on tv last night, and was moved to tears both times. many ppl gathered in the lobby of our building and it’s so moving to see how many ppl really care and have been following this election. see ya back in the hood.

  4. Jen said

    I can feel the excitement (and cold) of this great day! Thanks for sharing. We couldn’t hear the booing of Bush on TV so glad to hear the classy Americans who were there didn’t let us down 🙂 And how cute was Rev. Joseph’s ending? Good touch! I wish he was my Grandpa. Thank God for hot dog carts, the Metro…and Obama!!

  5. Addy said

    Agent Frechette, thank you, thank you , thank you for sharing your experience. It truly is inspiring! Glad that you were our agent on the scene.
    Love the video post and the glove pics. Now,it’s time to Obamanos!

  6. yumi said

    thanks for sharing the sights & sounds of this momentous occasion! as always, you’ve come through with some great pics! nothing like “hope” from a port-o-potty…and those poor gloves. 😦

    have a safe trip back & let’s meet up soon!


  7. Mom said

    Thanks for taking us on this historical trip with you and Tom. I felt as you did initially about Obama’s speech but after listening a few more times, he spoke to us as the President of the United States, not someone vying for the position. There is much that needs to be done and united, we can do it!!
    There is a force within us that can embrace change and forge ahead. I believe that time has arrived.
    You were there in the cold of January and we were there with you. So happy to see you engaged!!

    Love, Mom

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: