Wednesday, January 21, 2009


How I know I've passed into Adulthood. By: Cathy

Because I got new appliances for Christmas from the Mister, delivered today, and was SUPER stoked about it.

Awesomeness extends to their functionality, efficiency and environmentally friendliness. But primarily to their REDNESS. My sweet new cherry-red front-load washer and dryer. The first load is efficiently washing now (you've got to get the scent of 2 million other people off your clothes somehow, right?).

And it makes a super awesome cat-toy.



I came, they inaugurated, I nearly froze to death.

I could opine here about how wonderful it was to be there (it was!), despite the cold (it was!). Or about how being in that crowd of 2 million other shivering Americans really made the "We are one" more real (it sort of did, until I was very nearly and very literally smacked down by a vexed teenager who decided to use my mother's short stature as her camera tripod and I had to step in -- but in all fairness, she was the only disgruntled of the 2 million I encountered yesterday, well, her and her pesky sidekick who actually raised her hand for a moment to perform said threatened smack down of yours truly.). But you know all this. You've seen the little interviews on the news and the blurbs in the paper about what it meant to people who were going, who were there and those who were totally bummed that they couldn't make it.

It was all of those things. It was also, secretly, my hope that they took some really big aerial shot of the National Mall and in twenty-some-odd years it'll appear in a middle school textbook and I'll point at it knowingly (because, to chip away at the creepy thought of me having any access to a middle school textbook, it might be my kid's?) and say, "Hey, I was standing right there, near the Washington Monument's corral of well-supplied porta-potties (seriously, they were really well supplied.. overstocked, almost) on the backside of a grassy incline where you couldn't see much but pressed your ear into the cold air to hear it all go down over the loud speakers and tried to avoid being smacked down on a day of much hope and change."

I spent nearly the entirety of the day holding hands with my mom -- because she's my mom but primarily so I didn't lose her and more importantly, she didn't lose me. At times, particularly when we got close to the Mall, I felt as if I could have just picked up my feet and been been carried, rather smashed, with the undulating crowds. People, inexplicably, brought babies strapped to their chests, toddlers clinging to their ankles and strollers that would knock you in the back of the leg in the rush. People, inexplicably, thought it was an excellent time to light a cigarette and proudly smoke it while having 80% of your body surface touching other people.

I have since heard that there were no major incidents, few injuries - none of which were even remotely life threatening, and that DC Police have reported no arrests from yesterday.

I have never before seen so many people in my entire life. I have never before been in such a big crowd. I have never before felt my bones vibrate with the sound of one crowd's unanimous cheer. I have never before spontaneously hugged and been spontaneously hugged by so many strangers -- all of us celebrating the same thing.

So enough with the drippy emotions. Here is what I saw. Or in some cases, didn't see.
A few viewing rules and disclaimers:
1) I love my camera. Except that sometimes when I try to take a picture of something and a small fraction of that frame is in motion -- say, 2 million people assembling on a large open space -- the frame can go blurry. I can't help that. I'm a nurse, not a camera technician or a photojournalist.
2) My visual appearance varies very little from picture to picture due to my staple winter-weather attire. That might not bother you, and you very likely may not have noticed it. But in uploading each picture I kept saying to myself, "Damn, I look retardedly the same in every shot." I've dealt with it. You do the same.

Inaugural crowd rules stated no bags allowed. So my mom created her own stash. And she had EVERYTHING in that pocket, man. I'm convinced if I hadn't dragged her out of the hotel room when I did, she'd have thought of a reason to stash the bed linens, too. Oh, right, and my mom and I look nothing alike. I get that a lot.

The early throng of inaug-goers on my hotel block.
For non-Metro DC-ers, this is the 3rd street tunnel which runs under the National Mall as part of a major highway that bisects Metropolitan DC. The whole road was closed Tuesday and was used as a pedestrian tunnel -- which for someone who has driven this stretch countless times (ie: me) it was strange to be walking on it.

He didn't even vote for Obama, won't directly benefit from his administration, but hey, Canada knows what's up. Holla 'atcha!

And then the going started to get thick.

And then "the going" was some new classification of "thick" that was closer to "stationary". Looking back at the Washington Monument. Inaugural-shiz occurring behind me.

Said corral of porta-potties and my mom's hand/camera. To pretend to watch the inauguration, our backs were to these poopers. Cha, we were pretty far back. At one point people were climbing on top of the potties for better viewing (if I thought for a single second I could puzzle out how to get onto one, I might have considered it. ). For one dude, he wasn't having any of it -- and because it was either his job or because he thought it ought to be his job -- decided to clear off those rabble-rousers from the Johns and started rocking each one back and forth to force its up-top occupant off. Which, incidentally, prompted much wall beating from the inside occupant who probably saw their life -- and other things -- flash before their eyes, trapped in a rocking porta-pottie. That is NOT how I'd want to die, man.

Well, this was my historic view of history.

As the going started to get thinner I decided I ought to start making some photographic memories for the unborn grandkids. Just to prove to them that it was more than me pointing at their middle school textbooks. I needed real proof.

One of the better souvenirs being hawked along the way. The official Obama hand puppet. Which was funny, but as we got closer, appeared a little creepy. Trillions of vendors selling the same crap left little for me, the avid souvenir shopper. Until I happened to overhear one lowly vendor shouting about his wares. Official (and everything being sold yesterday was indeed Official) Obama condoms. Mine says, "The Ultimate Stimulus Package". Can you beat that? Can you? And more so, can you beat dragging your half frozen mother to a stand to watch you sift through condoms and then actually buy some? On second thought, it would have been stranger if she had dragged me back.

And then the strangest thing to happen to me on Tuesday:
I met Don King in our hotel lobby -- which went something like this:

Scene: Hotel Lobby
Mom and Cathy enter, shivering and commenting about how got-damn glad they are to be back at the hotel by the most ass-backward, long way thanks to DC Police street closings, in the warmth and geez, a nap sure does soun....
Cathy: HOLY SHIT! THAT'S DON KING! Or at least someone with really unfortunate Don King hair.
Mom: Whoooo?
and... SCENE.

Don King, ladies and gentlemen, who was MORE than willing to take several pictures with me and kept calling me "Baby" as only Don King could do. And everytime I had to address Don King, I actually called him "Don King". As in, "Excuse me, Don King, but could I get a picture with you?" and "It was such a pleasure to meet you, Don King." You know, I never pegged myself as someone who accosted celebrities for photos. Especially since if I had my pick of celebrity accosting-photos, it would not be Don King I would choose to accost. (Especially since my mother chose to tell me later that the day before, she was walking the touristy streets of DC and aided two young ladies in taking their picture with "some white-haired guy from CNN with a really, really well tailored overcoat". Cha. My mom met Anderson Cooper without knowing it, without telling him how utterly awesome he is, without saying that his premature white hair looks so distinguished on him and he has flawless skin, without mentioning that his mother's idea of "boot leg jeans" is a joke (his mother is Gloria Vanderbilt), without saying that her daughter has only been madly in love with him (and hello, knows who his mother is) since his early days of Channel One news in homeroom when she was a freshman in high school, without chloroforming him and bringing him back to her daughter's love-lair...) However, it might come as no surprise that Don King is known for little else these days than his love of being in photos -- regardless of who might be taking them and for what purpose. So really, rather than being that stereotypical, photo-snapping Joe-American, I was really making Don King's day. (Or else I've just created a very elaborate justification and I really would go bitchcakes around one of my celebrities de jour.) And let's be honest, I'm nearly positive at least a quarter of my brain cells were frozen at that point, so I can't really be held liable for the decisions and accostments I made that day.

So, in summation: in the chanted words of my countrymen yesterday -- Yes, We Did.

We sure, the hell, did.

Friday, January 09, 2009


What you didn't expect to hear at 7AM coming into work today....

At the start of each shift, the new nurses coming on get a quick brief about the patients on the unit from the nurses coming off. For patients who try to get out of bed, are combative or a host of other issues, we put their beds in the hall for better visibility from the nurses station -- a bed in the hall now saves a lawsuit later, right?

At the morning meeting, the night charge nurse said, "Oh yeah, and the old guy in the hall? Don't walk too close. He's a boob grabber. And after he grabs you, he'll start playing with himself."

The best part of this story -- and you didn't think it could get better -- was actually somehow being in the hall at the same time when he "caught" one of the older nurses who bent over him to fix his gown. I admit I was not much help to her as I was laughing too hard.

Holy crap, I love my job.

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