Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Not Much

I don't have much to write about the Inauguration.

I didn't go. I don't have a touching photo of the people around me watching it, all teary-eyed, or a picture of me and Jamaal celebrating the moment, lol. I didn't go somewhere special where everyone had on Obama shirts and was eating chili (apparently one of his favorite foods that was served around the city yesterday in his honeor). I watched it at my office, in a small windowless conference room with a bunch of women in their 40's and 50's who didn't like Bush but didn't like Obama because they were Hillary fans. Oh well.

I still managed to find his speech inspiring and his family endearing. Malia taking pictures of her dad while he's giving his inauguration speech in front of nearly two million people - I loved it. I liked the attitude of the speech too. It was basically like "we have MAD SH*T TO DO PEOPLE" and Obama made it clear that some of this work will have to be done by us, the common folk: "That we are in the midst of crisis is now well understood. Our nation is at war, against a far-reaching network of violence and hatred. Our economy is badly weakened, a consequence of greed and irresponsibility on the part of some, but also our collective failure to make hard choices and prepare the nation for a new age. Homes have been lost; jobs shed; businesses shuttered. Our health care is too costly; our schools fail too many; and each day brings further evidence that the ways we use energy strengthen our adversaries and threaten our planet."

I also like the pointed criticism of our current state of government. Many thought this was a direct hit to George Dubya, but personally, I think it should be interpreted as a hit to the crappy leadership that has plagued Washington for years, and both Democrats, Republicans, Independents and those that don't care fall into this category: "On this day, we come to proclaim an end to the petty grievances and false promises, the recriminations and worn out dogmas, that for far too long have strangled our politics." Word.

I liked this too: "As for our common defense, we reject as false the choice between our safety and our ideals.......We will not apologize for our way of life, nor will we waver in its defense, and for those who seek to advance their aims by inducing terror and slaughtering innocents, we say to you now that our spirit is stronger and cannot be broken; you cannot outlast us, and we will defeat you." Grrrrrr. It's stuff like that that makes me really damn proud to be an American. Gobama!


While I like this strong stance, I found that Obama made a very important point when he said this as well: "Recall that earlier generations faced down fascism and communism not just with missiles and tanks, but with sturdy alliances and enduring convictions. They understood that our power alone cannot protect us, nor does it entitle us to do as we please. Instead, they knew that our power grows through its prudent use; our security emanates from the justness of our cause, the force of our example, the tempering qualities of humility and restraint" and "know that America is a friend of each nation and every man, woman, and child who seeks a future of peace and dignity, and that we are ready to lead once more." This has been an issue that has plagued me for a long time when it comes to America and her policies. I felt like our world image and reputation was on a serious decline, not just because of Iraq, but for many other reasons as well, including the simple ignorance of human suffering in places the were, for whatever reason, deemed "not important enough" by our leaders. I hope Obama is as ready to lead as he says he is, but I am actually optimistic about our future as a world leader. It makes me hope that we can help places like the Congo and Zimbabwe, help people in slums, people who are cold and hungry and destitute because their governments or the non-existence of government in their homeland is making sure that they stay that way.

Of course the economy, healthcare and homeland security are important to me, of course, but the environment and social justice/equality at home and abroad have always been forefront in my list of ideals and it is those ideals that led be to Obama. I was most inspired by hearing this yesterday: "To the people of poor nations, we pledge to work alongside you to make your farms flourish and let clean waters flow; to nourish starved bodies and feed hungry minds. And to those nations like ours that enjoy relative plenty, we say we can no longer afford indifference to the suffering outside our borders; nor can we consume the world's resources without regard to effect. For the world has changed, and we must change with it." To me, that phrase was the real "Yes We Can" moment of the speech. It wasn't all sunshine and lollipops. Actually, it really wasn't any sunshine and lollipops, more a gritty and determined list of crap we've got to accomplish together, but that bit about branching out, helping others, stopping the plunder of resources from poor and suffering nations, halting our indifference - it really served as re-inspiration for saving the world. I really think we can do it. I really do.

Finally, the most important point in the entire speech:

"For as much as government can do and must do, it is ultimately the faith and determination of the American people upon which this nation relies."

Stop waiting for the government to do stuff for you - get out there and do it for yourself. Take some responsibility for your life.

Blah. That's enough from me. I think the real thrill already happened for me during the election. That was the tear-inducing moment, when Charlie Gibson called the election back in November. I was moved to see Michelle Obama look so proud as she held the Lincoln Bible under her husband's hand, and to see the little Obamas take in the whole scene, and I very much enjoyed the Inauguration speech, but the emotional reaction to it all was long over. I was all "Ok people, let's get to work, there is no time for partying!!!" Heh. Oh, and Aretha Franklin? You are too damn old, LOL. I know half the press was calling her "An American Treasure" but I seriously wanted to cover my ears. By the second verse I didn't know what the HELL she was singing. Oh, but Beyonce actually did a fantastic job at whatever ball she was singing at (I can't keep them straight to save my life). That was wonderful. And I sometimes doubt Beyonce's talent (I love her madly, but you know), but last night she was fantastic. (Oh and I hate to single out Aretha cause she's old and doing well considering some more harsh criticisms: I didn't like the poet or the benediction either, lol. I missed the beginning minister, so despite his apparent "anti-gay" status, I can't comment on him, hahahah. Here's who I liked: Obama. The quartet with Yo-Yo Ma, Itzhak Perlman, Anthony McGill and Gabriela Montero. Perhaps it is my congregationalist tendencies or my simple New England upbringing, but I find "Simple Gifts" a most beautiful and moving pieces of music. I also liked Beyonce, and the little kid's dancing behind Will.I.Am, but I'm not so sure I liked all of Will.I.Am's performance, and I am a HUGE fan of his "Yes We Can" video. Ummm. Oh and I turned off the TV when Mary J. came on screeching. I love her, but I had a mad headache. Ooooh yeah, and Alicia Keys looke HAWT.)

Anywho. Other than that I have no real news. I bought a wedding dress this weekend which was awesome. It's sort of anticlimatic though because you go to the store, try it on, the people you're with are like 'OH MY GOD IT'S SO PRETTY' but other than that, no one else is too into it. I mean, I don't expect people to like, drop what they're doing and go apesh*t cause I bought a dress, but besides the engagement, this is the first "big thing" to get accomplished. I guess I sort of lumped it into the same category as the engagement, and I shouldn't have, because now I'm like, weirdly sad. Ugh. This weekend we're supposed to go look at one of the reception places I had in mind. I'm not so sure my other half is into it, so this brings up a lot of guilt and regret blah blah blah, but the appointment has been made so we'll just have to see how it goes. Maybe it will be a hit and everyone will leave happy. My dress would look perfect there, LOL.

*edited to add: I have read a lot of criticisms about the First Lady's shoe choice yesterday. Everyone is all "yellow and green? ew"
I think Stacey and Clinton (WNTW) would be proud!!


everything and nothing said...

I saw an interview with Aretha were she said she didn't think she sang well and that she can't really sing in the cold. Also: love her hat.

RE: The green shoes... They are the obvious choice. Dark green or black. Also, to me that dress was on the green side of yellow, so shut up haters!

Al said...

hahahahaha yeah, shut up haters!

Oh, now I feel bad for criticizing Aretha, poor lady. I think she's my grandma's age, and my grandma, though perfectly independent and active, would certainly not sit out in the cold all day at an inauguration, so I have to give her credit for even being there, never mind singing!