I fully intend to write on Friday a more comprehensive blog about my experience as a volunteer on the mall for the presidential inauguration. But until then let me post a couple of photos that bring up some parts of the inauguration.
Here is a photo of a few of the volunteers in my team. As you might observe, we had these read hats that read “Presidential Inaugural 2009 Volunteer” to designate that we were there to help. We were working on the mall between 4th and 6th Streets, near the West wing of the National Gallery of Art.
659 Volunteers - Grid 1 Location

Next is a photo of a phenomenon that I found to be one of the most entertaining parts of the inauguration. There was this school of fish (i.e. people who REALLY wanted to be on TV) who would follow the camera boom around and cheer, chant and wave flags in front of the camera wherever it swung on the mall. They were shameless.
The school of fish

There will be more photos to come and tales of my adventures that day, of which there were MANY.
TTFN. -Esthernow


So because I’m a volunteer for the swearing in/inauguration of Obama on the mall on Tuesday, I’ve been encouraged not to blog about anything for the time being as it might reflect back on the inaugural committee.

But that’s not the reason I’ve been silent. I’m busy as all get out.

Anyway, to edify you a bit I’ve posted some links to information and photos about the inaugural volunteers.

Believe it or not I’m in this photo of the volunteer training session on Monday. It was crazy.  If you really want to locate me I’m in the front row in front of the screen and I’m in between a brunet and red head. You can see a tiny bit of my blonde hair but that’s it. hahaha.

My job will be to help answer questions in the area where the general public (non-ticketed section of the mall) will gather. I’ll be between 4th and 7th streets and we have these cool red winter hats so you might be able to pick me out. ha. yeah right.

I’ll write all about my experience after the inauguration.

Are you coming into DC for the inauguration?

I know there are a MASSIVE number of websites to look at to find all the maps into the city, road closures, security point entry spots, etc. Yet if you only have time to look at four websites these are the ones I would recommend.

First, check out the Secret Service’s inauguration page and its list of prohibited items and map of restricted areas.

Second, use Google’s interactive map for getting into the city on the 20th. The map is updated based on the most current inauguration information available.

Third, check out a PDF map of the ticketed and non-ticketed entry points sections for the swearing in on the mall.  It looks like there is only one entry point for each type of ticket or non-ticket.

 Fourth, the DC inaugural page will be very helpful as it sort of serves as a clearing house for alerts, updates and maps.

In the meantime check out the Obama scarf I made. I created the crochet pattern and made two. One for me and one for a friend who has been a HUGE Obama supporter pretty much since the beginning.

Here’s a pic of the scarf.


I’m in the pit of planning for the inauguration weekend and I just learned that tickets to the “Art of Change” inaugural ball are sold out. But two of my dearest buddies want tickets and I want them to be able to attend. If anyone has an extra ticket (or two) that they are willing to part with for face value please contact me.

p.s. I fully intend to write a legitimate blog later today. My apologies for using this forum to seek tix. Clearly I’m a lady in need. 😉

To stand with friends or be among the people

Yesterday I  had the bittersweet dilemma of having to choose between hanging out with several of my friends during the inauguration or volunteering on the mall.

One of my West-coast girlfriends recently obtained some tickets for the inauguration and she was going to share one of them with me.  I was so elated that she would share such a gift with me that I started randomly skipping around the room saying “yay” and giggling like a fourth-grade girl for longer than I’d like to admit.

Yet before she learned she had tickets I signed up to volunteer for the inauguration festivities.

I have prior experience as a tour guide around the city and I’m also a volunteer usher/coat check/VIP room receptionist for the Shakespeare Theatre Company, so I figured I could use my experience for the good of the city. Plus I really love interacting with people and helping them find their way around the city. I thrive on it.

Anyway, I received a call yesterday from the guy coordinating one of the teams of volunteers who said I would be working where the ticketed area ends on 4th Street and the public access part of the mall begins. I was extatic until I realized that it also meant I had give up the option of standing next to my friends and sharing hugs with them during the ceremony. Yet I couldn’t give up a lifetime opportunity to be a part of helping the day run smoothly.

Although I felt a little sad that I had to tell my friend (and on such late notice) that I wouldn’t be using that ticket, I was relieved that she graciously accepted my apologies and understood why I wanted to take the volunteer position. I truly  hope she can find someone to use the ticket or else I’ll feel like a bit of a heel.

A house of guests

I am also thrilled to have several of my relatives staying at my place for the inauguration.

Among them are my uncle, and my cousin and his wife, who I have not seen for years, and my cousin’s friend/business partner.  Yay. My relatives are such wonderful people that I know it will be nothing but a pure joy to have them nearby.

Yet I’m a nester, a mother hen.  In that I wish I could have all of my friends who are going to the mall together in one place the night before the inauguration.

But I had to admit yesterday that it was not going to happen and it made me a little sad.  Last night I felt a little like a wounded kitten licking her paws in the corner. I so want to be able to share in the joy of Obama’s inauguration with my friends.  But here is one time that I have to admit, no I cant. 


Ah well, at least I’ll have my phone charged for texting.

I’m still not down from the high I felt last night when the news broke that Obama will be our next president. I’m not sure how to explain how I feel other than to say that — for the first time in many years — I felt hope last night. I was overcome with the purest, hottest joy I think I’ve felt in my life.

And it made me want to…. (and I did for hours and into the wee hours of the morning)

*ungulate my voice in a high pitched tone







*honk the horn as if the car were saying “o-bam-a”

*drive in the slow honking and screaming procession of cars down 16th street to the White House with one hand on the wheel and the other hanging out of the car holding strings to red, white and blue balloons.

*run with my buddies to the White House and join the thousands of voices in rejoicing, singing patriotic songs, nah-nah-nah-nah, hey hey hey… good bye, etc.

*scream “yes we did”

*grin until my face is numb

The night started off watching CNN at a “DC for Obama” party at Station 9 on U Street and 14th, NW. The room was crowded and the drinks were EXTREMELY over priced ($40 for 5 drinks!!!!!!) but the energy in the room was like an electric current from body to body, except that the energy spread and grew as the night progressed.


The room would roar in a sound (although there must have been less than 500) liken to being at a rock concert for at least a minute every time Obama won a state. And when we learned he won Virginia…. well….. the room went crazy. Anthony, Dave and I hugged each other, danced, and screamed. Then I climbed onto the soft light brown leather seat of a table booth and danced. Everyone danced for the 45 minutes until McCain came on TV. Out of respect and curiosity the room went quiet for McCain’s speech. It was a good speech, but nothing compared to the one Obama delivered some minutes later.


It was pouring outside but we didn’t care. We ran to the car and started making our way to the White House.

We made two rounds on 16th street and the White House and then parked. People with smiles, cheers and laughter were walking, and sometimes running, all around us on the sidewalks toward the White House. The sound of celebration surrounded us and lifted my spirits. 

The crowd was big and loud in the park. There were people banging pots and drums, people singing and chanting and always there was the sounds of screaming and cheering.

Better yet, it was as if everyone there had known each other for a lifetime. Strangers hugged and danced in circles, everyone was cheering everyone else along. I’m not a fan of sports but for a second I understood why men like sports so much.

On our way back to the car from the White House we sat down on a curb to hear the halo of sounds of the city. I ran accross a couple of friends who I hadn’t seen for years.

Then I felt inspired at a stoplight and ran between the rows of cars giving high-fives to people with thier windows down. Everyone had thier windows down, even the bus drivers. I would run to another intersection when the light turned red and do the same thing.

Then we went to the car and drove home. We agreed that our hearts didn’t want to leave the celebrations. But the adult in me knew that I needed to get home to sleep and return to work in the morning.

I was thirsty so we stopped at a gas station and Dave and Anthony went to get some water. I turned on the radio and the techno song “We’re in heaven” came on and I couldn’t help but turning up the volume and jumping out the car and dancing right there next to the gas pumps.

Another car pulled up and a couple women jumped out and we danced. Right there, we danced at the gas station.

Then we drove home. I crawled into bed, still grinning, and slept in past my alarm clock. Although there was a lot of swearing when I saw it was 9:55 a.m. when I awoke, I still couldn’t help but grin at the memory of last night.


This morning I pulled myself out of bed at 6 and trudged up the short hill to the college where I would cast my vote. The polls were to open at 7 but by 6:15, I was the 12th person in line. Only 15 minutes later the line of people had wrapped around the administration building.

I’ve voted many times before but I have never felt so excited as I was this morning.

I stared at the presidential ticket options and pushed the screen to indicate my choice. And I couldn’t help but grin when I felt my heart skip a beat. It was all I could do from letting a “yay” escape from my lips. Then I finished up the rest of the ballot (I am proud to say I had researched each of the candidates and questions) and turned in my card and headed back to my apartment.

I truly hope that the polls have been right. I hope this country is mature enough to set aside its racial biases. I hope I will not head back from the DC Democratic party tonight with my head hung low and my heart heavy. Moreover, I hope that I am able to proudly say that I am an American to the Italians I meet while in Europe next week.

So I knew that Obama must have an amazing team of fundraising wizards, hell, he got me to donate for the first time to a political campaign. But I had no idea how much genious is behind his fundraising until I got this email today.


“Esther —
     I want you to be there with me on Election Night when the results come in.
We’re planning a big event that will include tens of thousands of supporters in Grant Park in downtown Chicago.
     We’re saving some of the best seats in the house for 5 people who have given to the campaign before — and who decide to make a donation one last time before Sunday at midnight.
     If you’re selected, you can bring a guest, and we’ll fly you in and put you up in a hotel for the night. You’ll go backstage at the big event and — no matter what happens — you’ll have a front row seat to history as we celebrate the supporters who got us over the finish line.
     Any donation counts — whatever you can afford. Show your support at this crucial time with a donation of $25 or more, and you could join me on Election Night:
This movement for change has been a testament to the power of ordinary Americans coming together to achieve extraordinary things.
I look forward to having you there on Election Night.
Thank you,

Wow. OK. So I would love to know how much money this idea generates. It’s a genius tactic…. Create a lottery for a handful of front row seats on election night for last minute donations, throw in a guest pass and a free flight to the event along with lodging and voila, millions of people throw their $25 into the pot. Holy crap, if I were a student or had a flexible schedule, I would be all over that.

On another thought. I’ve been wondering lately whether Obama will gather more donations than he can spend before election day. And what if he does have a surplus, would he be able to keep it? I’m sure someone has written about that issue.

Also, If he is able to keep a surplus of donations, what would he do with it? Donate it to charity. Go on a cruise until January. Pay for a week for him and Michelle at an exclusive spa. Donate money to the millennium development villages project. Moreover, would he have to disclose how a surplus is spent?

p.s. tonight is going to be a blast. I’ve been invited to a condo rooftop party in DC that has more than 150 RSVPs. Although I’m not impersonating anyone in particular, I’m going with either my green or bright pink wig and some black or red fishnet stockings.

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