dc - day 4 - tuesday - inauguration - notes in sketch format - concluded

think of one of those apocalyptic movies, a post-modern society where some sort of virus or zombie-race or otherwise horrible event reduces the citizenry into madmen, racing around, against all odds, trying to get the last bus/shuttle/ship out of town into safety. that's sort of what leaving the mall and getting home felt like. after the inaugural we decided - the four of us, m, jerome, jerome's mother, me - to attempt to find something to eat, hopefully somewhere warm. It was almost 1 pm and we had been up since 530am and not had coffee or a proper breakfast. all advisories said that it would be slow going as there would be a delay at metro stations and one would have better luck going to eat somewhere before trying to get on metro. first we exited the 12 ave side headed north and headed down the ramp towards pennsylvania. note that when i say exited i mean moved at a glacial pace in a crowd of tens of thousands. we noticed that pennsylvania ave was all fenced off for the presidential parade. in fact, all northbound exits were blocked off. we turned around, deciding to head to the 'warming center' at one of the smithosonian museums but when we got there - 500 yds in say 15 minutes - we found the teeming throng to get in an unwelcome sticking point. turned around and reentered the mall at 12th. headed west toward the wash monument. people appeared to be moving s bound on 14th. we headed in that direction only to discover, some minutes later, a clog of unmoving people. we couldn't tell if it was fenced or blocked only that no one was moving. we decided to head eastward down the s side of the mall. jerome stopped a cop and asked advice. the answer: all of metro is shut down, all of the surrounding streets were in lockdown. best thing to do would be to sit somewhere for a couple hours and wait for the parade to end. Hmm. When does the parade end? We've just heard that they pushed the starting time back from 230p to 430p. not good. Wind whipped at us. Cold fingers and toes. Full body exhaustion. We found a concession tent and headed to get coffees. All out of coffees but they had hot chocolate. very low grade powder mixed w/ hot water but it was sweet ambrosia and we unanimously claimed it the best hot chocolate we'd ever had in our lives.

Headed toward the wash mon, thinking there would be some exit point to cross north the further west we went. there was not. jerome and his mom both talked to a cop who thought our best hope would be to head southward as far as we could on foot and take a cab and there should be lots of cabs b/c they can't cross north and take the cab to an outlying metro station and - presuming the metro is running again - take the metro home. It should be noted that many cops and law enforcement officers were from out of town, contracted in for the event so while some advice was helpful and generous it was not given w/ full knowledge of the surrounding area. We decided to take part of his advice and head southward. so 45 min after being at the unmoving clog of people we were crossing the intersection, ducking under tree branches, skirting scores of standing people, and stepping onto constitution ave - yes off the mall. at this point we still weren't certain where/what we were going/doing but at least we were moving and at least we were off the mall. walked further, and ended up finding our way back to l'enfant plaza. 2 things became clear as we got closer: the metro must be running again and should we wait in line we would not get on it for several hours as one feeding ribbon of the line looked like this:

we walked onward and it just got worse. there were traffic backups, thousands of people on the street walking in all directions, all trying to get out, get home. a woman in a reflective vest stood w/ a bullhorn on top of a truck, advising those of us who wanted shuttle busses to walk up two blocks and take a left on frontage road. shuttle bus sounded good. we didn't know where it was going but it would be warm and it would be moving. we moved w/ the crowd in this direction and quickly discovered that the shuttle bus would not be an option:

we continued walking, thinking we'd head toward waterfront station, and we hoped some sort of restaurant/bar/establishment where we could, at the very least, sit down. we were now in the zone where we weren't speaking, all reserves of energy spent, just moving zombie-like, hoping for reprieve. there was a small little shuttlebus that had a sign on it 'lost visitors'. jerome knocked on the door and asked and the driver was coming off duty but it just so happened that he was going to rfk stadium (just like all the other shuttle busses) and he was willing to let people come onto his vehicle and it just so happened he was willing to take us. we entered. we sat. we slept.

I'm deliberately leaving out some of the last details but here's the broad strokes: at long last we arrived at rfk. m and i were semi-familiar b/c we had been here the day before for the volunteer thing. we walked, we crossed a parking lot of ice, we ascended a lonely staircase. we received more misinformation. we walked to the rfk stadium metro stop and sweet mother of god it was mercifully operational. m and i were going blue line. jerome and his mom were going orange. we hugged. we parted ways.

dc - day 4 - tuesday - inauguration - notes in sketch format - part 2

somehow jerome's mom found us. he was able to guide thru landmark (carousel) and the good fortune of a man in a red striped cat in the hat hat, even though we were hundreds deep from the edge of the mall. 8 am and 2.5 hrs to go. standing in place reinforces the chill in the extremities. lots of bouncing. still lots of squirming and jostling. multiple people turned back, tempers flaring at times. the concept of 'personal space' is not honored - people are chest to back, elbow to elbow. we see a man carrying 2 coffees so m leaves to get some. she returns 1/2 hr later w/o them as the line was too enormous, too daunting. after reading the security advisory - which stated that basically you could bring nothing to the mall - we brought nothing w/ us to the mall. we did have 3 vegan breakfast sandwiches that we 'smuggled' in, but there was the issue of digestion. no one wanted to eat or drink lest it necessitate a trip to the port-a-toilets. jerome left to go to the bathroom and returned 45 minutes later. a man w/ a roll of paper towels and a spray bottle stood outside the porta-toilets offering to give a special inaugural cleaning for one buck before you entered. some people took him up on it, given the state of them. eventually hunger won out and we ate the sandwiches, w/ no consequence. at say 1015 or so the concert ended and the 'show' began. a steady stream of dignitary and functionary arriving and sitting. the crowd - at least around us - booed and cheered for various individuals. the energy was building and thoughts of cold and discomfort began to fall away. people were reverent at the invocation but increasingly rowdy afterwards as biden was sworn in, as aretha franklin sang. as barack was sworn in there was joyous pandemonium: flags waving, tear-streamed hugs, celebration. a threshold crossed...


dc - day 4 - tuesday - inauguration - notes in sketch format - part 1

alarm at 520am. green tea, weather check (20's feels like 10's w/ windchill) and out the door we go on schedule, 6am. col hts metro stop is less populated than we'd expected but when train arrives it is wall to wall. we race - 3 of us, jerome w/ us -to the last car like some movie and we make it just as the doors shut. the car is raucous and rowdy, people are ebullient, shouting joyously, goodbye to one long era and a very sturdy welcome for the new one. at l'enfant, teeming, thronged mob waiting to exit up to the street. we are all held in place as the metro personnel are staggering the turnstiles to for the sake of the escalators. while this is probably a sound idea it does not make an ideal situation for the claustrophobe...at last we are rising, outside, glad for the chill after the sweatbox downstairs. we are to meet jerome's mother just outside but she is at a diff stop on a diff line. jerome thinks we can all meet up at the mall. privately i think this is nuts as streams of people, hundreds deep and hundreds thick are moving around us, pulled up a street, past tour busses, up a ramp, onto 12th ave and finally approaching the mall. jerome calls his mom again, she's near the capitol. we start to walk in that direction, parallel to the mall instead of into it until at 7th ave jerome sees this as an untenable solution. his mom will have to come to us. we enter the mall. hard to convey the scope. words/image cannot fully capture the sensation of being there in the freezing chill, 720am now, sun rising, hundreds of thousands of people around us, people squirming, jostling, cutting, pushing, attempting to make room where there is none. we are all bound by this moment. the jumbotron replays the concert from two days ago which is good and bad - happy for the distraction but having just seen the concert we are well aware of where each performance falls in the show and how much time we have left. It is not yet 730 and we have 3 hours of standing - exhausted, spent, empty-gas-tank - standing to do...

dc - day 4 - tuesday - inauguration


dc - day 3 - monday, mlk day

Stopped at Columbia Heights Coffee for americanos and a banana-nut muffin. It was about 11:15 pm and we were just heading out. Our goal was to get to the Rayburn Building – one of a few buildings near the Capitol housing Congressional office – to go to our Rep’s (Earl Blumenauer) open house. We’d shake hands w/ other Oregonians and talk about how lucky we were to be here. Maybe we’d meet Earl? There would be light refreshment. It would be a charming addition to our trip narrative and a lovely way to regionalize this whole inauguration. Provided it happened that is.

We took the metro to the capitol south stop on the blue line and took the escalator up. Emerged into a teeming throng of people. Wrapping serpentine around multiple buildings up and down multiple streets. Hearts sinking we found our building and got in line. Most of these people – we learned – were inaugural ticket holders in line to procure their tickets from their rep’s. They weren’t going anywhere. They’d been there for hours and were prepared to wait for several more. Zero chance of us – 70 minutes remaining – making Earl’s open house. We approached a side door at the building, just in case, and were immediately asked by security what our business was. They didn’t quite care about our open house and firmly instructed us that all individuals entering the building had to go through security. It was not going to happen.

We crossed the street and headed for the Capitol. Suddenly found ourselves w/ a minor surplus of time. We stood on the steps, we took multiple pics, we gawked and pointed. We were not alone. The overall feeling was something approaching a giddy chaos. People everywhere. All nationalities, colors, creeds, stations. We crossed another street to the Supreme court and then back around the other side of the Capitol, to gaze on where Barack will stand tomorrow, where he’ll look out. It was manic, crazed energy . Streams of people elbowing, jostling, squirming, pushing to get onto the platform that was the closest accessible point to where Barack would stand.

We returned to the Metro and found an insane throng of people coming up and going down. People were arriving by the hundreds to – presumably – pick up their inaug tix. As the escalator descended we saw the scope and depth of people, waiting to rise.

We had signed up to volunteer at RFK stadium so we headed out there. Exiting that Metro stop found even more vendors. Again, all possible products w/ Barack’s likeness – bobbleheads, paintings, banners, shot-glasses, hot sauces, key-chains, neckties, headbands, mittens. At the stadium we were all sectioned off into groups of 80 or so. We sat in the seats and listened to a brief instruction by a volunteer. We were to enter the heated tents and follow the lines. We were to grab a plastic bag and hold it open as we moved down a series of tables as other volunteers put items – donated by target – into the bag. Once full we put the bag on another table so another set of volunteers could seal the bag. Then we went to the back of the line and did it again, a total of 10 times. The bags were going into packages to soldiers overseas. Afterwards everyone sat in seats and wrote letters to servicemen and women. I wrote four letters. M wrote seven.

We went back to U street, hoping to attend the afternoon happy hour session at Twins Jazz but it was not to be. All fine as we went instead to crème for dinner. Tremendous.

We plan to turn in early tonight, wake early tomorrow. It is insane here and tomorrow promises to be more so. We are about 3 miles from the mall and should the metro be untenable we are prepared to walk…


dc - day 2 - sunday

Slept in inadvertantly. Travel, time change etc. We threw ourselves together and planned how to work out the day. The concert on the mall started at 2pm or so and we were leaving the apt at 12:15pm still in need of coffee and breakfast. Against both our better judgements we ducked into starbucks. I prefer to go elsewhere particularly if traveling (though m reminds me we went to one in azabu-juban, Tokyo our first day there) but tick tock. Naturally, a line and a shortage of items. We settled for the next best choices and reminded ourselves of the occasion and that this particular breakfast experience will probably be regarded nostalgically in a couple days, as overnight the visiting population appeared to double in size.

Got on the metro and took it to the archives. Streams of people, moving in herds, like packs of docile animals, pulled toward and down the Mall gravitationally. Vendors everywhere selling every possible permutation and iteration of absolutely anything w/ Barack Obama’s visage – buttons, t-shirts, scarves, beanies, gloves, stickers, a Xeroxed calendar thrown together on photoshop, mugs, glow-sticks, flags, you name it. We stood outside the MSNBC booth on the mall for about four seconds and then headed in the direction of the Lincoln Memorial. People streamed on both sides of us, hundreds of portable toilets far as the eye would allow. At last we crested the slight hill that the Washington Monument rests atop and looked down and saw the pillars of the Lincoln. Far away. Aswarm. The crowd was starting to firm around us we had about 45 min b/f the concert was even to start. We considered staying put - given all the speakers and jumbotrons – but something impelled us onward. We managed to keep snaking and slithering, cutting over and through and around and back around and before we knew it we were entering the teeming mass inching and jostling toward the security tent (near the wwii memorial). After a brief scan, we were in.

We headed down the path as far as humanly possible while still being able to keep the Lincoln in eyesight and situate ourselves near a jumbotron. We were just on the top of a small ridge that rose up from the reflecting pool. A tree branch partially blocked the screen but it really didn’t matter. The concert began and swells of emotion ran through me, seeing all this assemblage of great (mostly)artists intersecting w/ (geo) politics and history. Words fail me (as do the pictures I managed to take, which cannot express the feeling of looking behind us, all the way up to the Washington monument, all the people. So many freaking people. Either side of the pool. All clapping, spirits soaring). M will be the first to tell you that I am the woman in our relationship but I will confess this you this with no shame – I wept.

Afterwards, we met up w/ our friend Jerome at the Washington monument. Though he lives in LA, this is his town. We were hungry and thirsty and decided to walk somewhere for a drink or some food or a coffee or all three but this proved difficult. NW was like vegas and nyc all at once. We contemplated waiting for an hour at legal seafood but (thankfully) thought better of it and hopped on the metro and went to Dupont circle. Found our way to after words, a restaurant in a bookstore and, not surprisingly, high on the list of things m wanted to do. just perfect.

Later m and I were on the way back to Columbia Hts. We stopped at U street for a nightcap, ducked into saint ex. Our backs weary, our feet hurt like hell and we were the two happiest people alive.

dc - day 1 - saturday

We left portland in the early dawn. The flight buzzing w/ the knowledge of what’s coming. Kids w/ name-tags that said ‘2009 inauguration conference’; a band from Vancouver WA playing in the parade. Snippets of ‘who do you know?’ and ‘where are you staying?’in the air as we descended over the frozen wyeth-palette landscape. Dulles was swarming, mainly students – bands, groups, coalitions. We found our way somehow to the curb and the air was a knife. Not blow in your hands cold, but rather ow my ears just got cut cold. Found the right 5A bus and called our ride, telling him we were en route and would be at our designated meeting spot in some time.

We got to L’enfent plaza struggled w/ the metro pass machine, and got on the metro to U street. Called our ride. He did not answer. We weren’t sure what to do exactly. Took the escalator up to the street w/ our suitcases and emerged right in front of Ben’s chili bowl, which had Hollywood style spotlights, shooting skyward and a long line of people waiting to get in, breath spiraling out in front of them. We ducked into a bistro type place called Ulah grill. Stowed our suitcases and sat at the bar and drank red wine, toasting to the small miracle of us being there. They offered a libation called a barackatini (as I’m guessing most DC establishments do this wk) which contaned about 10 kinds of liquor.

Our ride called, en route. We downed our wine, collected our luggage, and ran out to his car which contained, in the backseat, a golden retriever named flapjack. This was fascinating for several reasons, one of them being that we’ve toyed w/ the notion of naming our next dog flapjack and another being that it happened to be Mawell’s birthday, 10 yrs had he lived. We got to the apartment (thanks Heather!) unpacked and headed back out.

Walked to Irving and then down 3 blocks to the Columbia Heights Metro stop. Shops and restaurants w/ that new feel, that gentrified sensation as if their mere presence was intended to obliterate the history of the neighborhood (not dissimilar to parts of the Pearl in pdx). Went to target for tea and film and then walked up and down streets, hoping to find a decent restaurant. The cold was piercing. We ended up getting back on the metro, returning to the spot we had been an hour earlier, U street. The sidewalks swelled w/ people, most – it appeared – visiting for the occasion. Every street corner had one or two vendors selling Barack buttons, hats, T-shirts, of varying degrees of quality. We ducked into an Ethiopian restaurant and ate dinner, toasting again to the fact of us being here. There’s an undeniable buzz building, a beginning.


...good news, instruction...

There is a saying that the teacher is always with us. The teacher is always showing us precisely where we are at and encouraging us to relax and open our hearts and minds, encouraging us to not speak and act in the same old stuck ways, encouraging us also not to repress or dissociate. So with this one who is scaring you or insulting you, do you retaliate as you have one hundred thousand times before, or do you start to get smart and do something different?

the above words (further instruction from pema c) were on my mind yesterday as i went home from work. the bus ride was quick. the stars were glowing pinpricks, my breath a blanket. i was feeling good about myself for putting the brakes on my pattern(ed) response to the AM rejection yesterday. then i walked in the door: mm handed me a letter from a grant board. it was the result of my application from november. i opened it. "...we regret to inform you...". Classic. And beautiful. what were the odds of two rejections in a span of 10 hours? well, probably they're not that crazy but the point is that w/o the effort there would be no rejection. we celebrated w/ champagne.

in related news, about an hour ago i got an email from the neurosurgeon who oversees my annual MRIs. and it was written in golden honey:


...fragments, increments...

i was rejected by email this morning from a creative venture that i was excited about. my excitement was two-fold: one to be involved w/ something that sounded right up my alley, and two, i was pretty sure i would get it (this of course has a sub-compartment of ego validation). i attemped to not get pulled into the currents of the rejection but only w/ minor success. dribbles of depression and anger kept arising. later i stood in the kitchen getting ready to leave for work and bigger waves washed ashore, waves encompassing history and things outside the present, outside the right now. Impressions, conclusions, arrivals all built on shadow and sand. Later still, at work, it continued to gnaw away. mm and i have been in the habit of celebrating our rejections in a formal manner, a vocal declaration of our intent, a salute to the effort not the result. I worked to move my awareness to this arena. Later, I came upon this passage from Pema C:

But the real core instruction is, whenever you're feeling uncomfortable, don't believe what you're saying to yourself. Right then is the time to not believe what you're saying to yourself.

And what we're saying to ourselves at those times are really old habits. We're reinforcing really old habits. That's what we do when we're uncomfortable. We don't leave it with just hooked or triggered. We seek to get the bubble back together— or whatever language you want to use— by talking to ourselves, in a way that really strengthens old habits. And they're usually very self-destructive habits.


requiem for a hat

i would be a first-rate buffoon to say i couldn't see this coming. i could feel you trying to take your leave for months. what began as a hair-line fracture in the ice began to grow and drift incrementally, becoming a rift, a chasm, an abyss. i am clumsy in thought sometimes and, yes i'll say it, you took full advantage of that. i cannot fault you for my shortcomings though and, should you gaze on these lines, please do not infer such. we were doomed from the outset you see. all things die. even the brilliant, the shimmering, the harmonious.

a post-mortem is a fool's errand but for posterity's sake i shall recount the final moments: i parked the car in a downtown parking garage. eager to lessen my burden's i did not bring my bag choosing instead to carry my lunch and book which in turn meant i had to stuff you, sweet hat, into one of my pockets (i cannot recall thru my vale of tears whether this was coat pocket or pants pocket). I also carried an ipod and a digital camera, meaning my hands were thick and fumble-prone and as i've admitted, my thoughts were scattered like wind-borne seeds. somewhere between the parking garage and my bldg i lost you. but i didn't realize this until hours later. you were long gone before i even noticed.

please know, though i am cloaked in blackness, i wish you all best,
where-ever you may have landed, who-ever may claim you as theirs.
the mountains, the seas, the stars will see our paths crossing as a mere blip - should they regard it at all - but know this dear friend: our time together occupies broad canyons of my memory, my person, my being. the person i am and the person i strive to be are unified thru the prism of your glory.

argh, let me stop this stalling and bring on the ceaseless ribbon of heartsick gutache:

farewell my sweet angel. i'm forever yours. faithfully.


former city commissioner and current us rep earl b makes the ny times we'll be in DC next wk and were already planning to drop by and see him. this kicks up the excitement a notch or three



painted the office recently and aquired new (old) desk. not quite there yet but closer, light-yrs closer to what it looked like b/f


in a tizzy, flurry of activity, swirl of plans involving interstate travel and have i really lost my hat again? these are the issues on the plate before me. i attempt to summon the things i've learned, to ignore the ripples on the water and follow the stone as it sinks in the pond-water but this is proving difficult. on my morning run i come across a stray dog and it follows me for 1/2 a block. fear sensors go up, my glasses are off b/c of the mist-induced film, i've been bit before. after leaving the dog i suddenly feel i've made a grave error. there's the voice in my head "that dog will be fine" and the recognition that much of the problems in the world are caused by people letting themselves believe some version of this. but i don't have a leash and i'm a long run from home. a white mist girds the treetops of mt tabor park. back home i gather some kibble, get in the car and retrace my steps. this dog is lost to me. at least for now


man and hat reunited, part deux

my mind has been all over the place of late, up and down and inside and outside all at once. trapdoors and subfloors. this is most typified by the current interactions and relational activity w/ my blue knit hat, seen above (alas in monochrome). it is an item that i have deep affection for and in colder times - such as the past three bizarre wintry weeks here in portland - i keep it on or near my person at all times.

as i type this i am just returned from the downtown branch of the mult co library where i returned some overdue items, checked the available dvds, and then checked out some items. Suddenly i couldn't find the hat. It was on my head upon entry but at some juncture between those two moments - opening the front door and putting freshly checked out dvds in my bob nagel distributing company bag (swag from a customers lunch some months back wherein i attended w/ some facility techs from work; further, it can be noted, a bag that mm mocks mercilessly, calling it my 'drug bag' as toting it i appear - she claims - to be the lowest rung on low profile narcotic exchange) - the hat had taken leave of me. Gone. Verifiably not there. A surge of white-hot fear shot out from my belly with an electric sputtering intensity. What to do? Panic set in, reached for me, clutched my shoulders, shook me like a brunch-soiled damp napkin. I've been meditating and reading pema chodron lately so a harmonic voice within me intoned breathe into it brian. just breathe. I set out to retrace my steps. I looked around the check-out desk but found nothing of note. I walked back to the dvd shelves where i suddenly recalled pausing mere moments ago as i held godard and pasolini and haeneke, thinking will i actually watch these or will they just sit on the coffee table for 3 wks until i have to return them and think 'i shouldn't have got those'? That pause was a natural place for one to set one's hat down. Fingers crossed, breath held, and no - sadly - no hat reunion would occur at this point in space and time. There were two possibilities a) hat stolen b) hat turned in lost and found. i managed to make my lip stop quivering long enough to inquire at a desk if any hats had appeared in, say, the last two minutes. No was the answer. A fat unequivocal no and get out of my face barked at me from the cosmos. My options were dwindling. The hat must be stolen. One of these lovely people spread out w/ their suitcases w/ a stack of literature must have spotted my hat, seen me set it aside for a moment and - right place, right time - swooped in and taken posession of said hat with me none the wiser. ah well, i thought, maybe this is the end of this romance. some of those library table-dwellers need a hat much more than i and after all, all things must pass. Each moment began to bloat and extend and i was suddenly in a fog of molasses dreamtime but despite this i was able to remember to summon myself to retrace one final step, meaning the first step, over at the drop slot where i returned the delinquent dvd's upon entering the facility. there, laying on the counter, unsullied and unmolested, bearing the slight fear of possible loss, like a baby pup accidentally separated from her mom, lay the sweet angelic blue of my knit hat. and i gently scooped her up and cradled her, whispering i'm right here. i'm right here. and all was well...


please see

seen some good ones lately. let the right one in. a christmas tale. happy go lucky. all great, all recommended. yesterday saw wendy and lucy. this is crudely put but: it's freaking great. shot for 300k w/ all available light. no music (save humming and grocery store muzak), no fancy trickery. just clean simple shots spread across a spider-web filament of plotline, anchored by m williams performance. movies like this are a rare animal. go see.


sentence of the day 1.2.09

"...i'm putting snow on my eczema..."

bp to mm, after the gentle inquiry "what the hell are you doing?"