Saturday, September 27, 2008

A Hell of a Time

Well, as you can see, I ultimately decided to go the Obama rally at UMW. How often will I have the chance to see the future President? I was really excited about the decision. I decided to go early, so I left the house around 11:45. By the time I got there, it was already insanity, and the festivities weren't due to kick off till 5:15 at the earliest.

Well, I was somewhat immoral and started wandering around to find out what was going on, when I happened to come to the beginning of the line. I sort of sauntered into it, and no one really said anything, so I just stayed there.

By 2:30, however, it was getting really old. It was HOT, it was HUMID, we were standing on bricks, it was awful. They finally let us in at 2:45 and we all made our way in to the area where they were doing the speech. I wound up 10 feet from the podium, by some miracle.

It didn't seem so rosy after the next 2 hours. In fact, I literally fell to the ground. It had rained for about 3 minutes earlier, which was just enough to make the humidity INSANE and the crush of bodies was crazy and I just got way too hot. We weren't allowed to have water in there or food, so we were just standing in the blazing sun with no relief. So finally I realized it was sit on the ground (which we were also not allowed to do) or throw up and faint. I chose to sit. There were 2 volunteers nearby who started asking me if I was OK, but I wasn't terribly responsive, so they got on their phones and started calling for help. Eventually someone sent over 2 bottles of water, and they poured one straight down my back and made me drink the other one. They also gave me a peppermint candy to suck on. After about 30 minutes on the ground, in the mud, I was feeling better and they helped me up. By then it was nearly 5 and the thing was supposed to start, and all of a sudden, the heavens opened and we got one hell of a thunderstorm. So the Obama event staff was scurrying around, trying to cover the podium, get all the electronics undercover, etc. The people around me started freaking out, so they grabbed the blue coverings off the railings and made makeshift tents. Unfortunately, the cloth was not waterproof, so water started pouring in, and we were getting soaked anyway. I stepped out of the tent and discovered my book, phone, and camera were drenched so my guardian angel who helped me earlier let me stash them under her trash bag tarp.

Well, by now, things were really dragging on and everyone was getting kind of pissed. I was thinking, "Bad enough we've all got aching backs and hurting feet, welcome to the next level of hell." But it was kind of like Woodstock, 30,000 people in a field full of mud.

When the rain let up, they started attempting to re-assemble the teleprompter, which was non-cooperative and people were booing and screaming, etc.

Finally at 7:15, a full hour late, after a bunch of local pols took the stage, Obama and Biden arrived. It was pandemonium. Total and complete chaos. Screaming, yelling, fists in the air, "HELL YEAH!" ballyhooing. Amazing.

I took TONS of a pictures, a few of which you see here. Biden spoke for about 15 minutes and then Obama took center stage for the better part of an hour. The speech was great, humorous, poignant, and inspiring. Midway through, the rain started again, and we were all soaked and he took off his jacket and got soaked right along with us.

Afterwards, he came off the stage and I was privileged to be able to shake his hand. It was an awesome moment. (His hand, if you must know, was FREEZING COLD, no doubt from being in the rain). And as you can see from the picture of me below--I was totally soaked by the time I got back in my car. I called the General and said, "Order me some dinner!" So he did and dinner was delivered as I got home, which was awesome, since I hadn't eaten all day since breakfast.

Despite whatever hell I might have endured physically (and I can barely put my feet on the floor they hurt so much, to say nothing of my back), it was totally and completely worth it. You can see more pictures at I just kept on shooting pictures. Some better than others, but they all came out really well. It was an awesome experience and worth all the craziness and missing the book festival. But next year, I'll be on the Mall for sure. And looking forward to Manda and Melissa and whoever else wants to come being there too!

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