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My Grandma-in-law

December 16, 2008 By: dcgrrl Category: family, politics

Soon before I was married, my husband took me to meet his grandparents.

Based on what I’d been told, I made sure I was on my best behavior – but I am an honest person. I found out that Grandma was too, sharing her feelings about some rude family members that had hurt her feelings.

Eventually, her refreshingly blunt attitude came my way. She wanted to know my thoughts on gay marriage.

Zoikes! How does someone in my position answer that?

In my case, I kind of expected this. (My dad’s a priest, so people ask me church questions a lot.) And as the grandson’s fiancé, I thought I should answer. Knowing up front that we probably disagreed didn’t make it easy. But I know that my Grandma-in-law is a church-going lady and we share faith, although it’s a slightly different brand.

My answer: When we walk down the aisle, we are going to ask God’s blessing on our marriage. We can only ask. Can’t they ask too? I don’t presume to know if God will bless our marriage, or what He would decide for a gay or lesbian couple. But I think that any couple that endeavors to ask for God’s blessing on their life together should be given that chance.

I could have gone on. I really believe that any couple that wants marriage should be able to have it. I grew up knowing the wedding ceremony to be the public display of a personal commitment between two people. The wedding ceremony is a request to the couple’s closest friends and family for support of that commitment. A civil marriage license grants some state and federal bonds between two people. A religious marriage service asks for God’s blessing.

As for legal rights, why shouldn’t gay and lesbian couples be given the same rights as other people that spend their lives together? This is America and all people are created equal. It seems very simple to me.

But I left it at that. Grandma seemed disappointed, but she didn’t argue with me. Grandma and I get along just fine, two years later. We have more in common than this issue. Like chocolate and cats and family.

I’m just reading now about how Obama has chosen Rick Warren to speak at the Inauguration. Obama has chosen other people for his Cabinet (much more powerful positions) that aren’t Democrats, but people seem much more upset about this choice. Different is not bad. We know that. But Obama has found things in common with Warren that he likes. Look for the similarities, and remember when you were the different one.

The Inauguration: Welcome to the District of Clusterfu@%

December 05, 2008 By: dcgrrl Category: america, DC, Inaugural, Inauguration, Obama, Washington

I have faith in our President-elect. Really, I do. I trust him, and his new administration, and I sort of trust the Presidential Inaugural Committee, but I’ve been in Washington for a long time, and I’m starting to feel the same old familiar doormat feeling. Welcome to your Nation’s Capital! Ouch! That’s my toe! And hey, stop crowding the Metro, I need that to get to work!

  • Inaugural planners have announced that the entire Mall will be open for spectators to be within history-making distance of Senators Obama and Biden as they take their oaths of office on January 20, 2009.
  • There are already dozens of Inaugural Balls and Galas planned for Tuesday and Monday night to celebrate the event.
  • Aretha Franklin is playing at the Kennedy Center, and if that’s not enough to create a mob of divas, she’s playing for FREE.
  • Diva alert #2: Oprah is landing at the Kennedy Center during Inaugural week, too.
  • In the highly annoying category, D.C. bars will be open until 5 a.m., so as I head home from work, they will party on. And perhaps as I get up for work, they will be heading home.
  • Meanwhile, Metro will be running at peak capacity, with many escalators turned off, for 15 hours. Tell me there won’t be an “incident” that causes a delay. I dare you.

All of this fun, and at my office, Inauguration Day is NOT a holiday. I had been thinking about taking the day off to celebrate the Obamanon, but what to do? Camp out for a good seat on the parade route? Fight the crowds to be one of the million on the Mall? So I can see our proud brown dot on the white marble staircase? When I see all these tourists (I know, you are Americans, too) littering our fair city, staring at Metro maps and wearing fanny packs, I don’t know if I want to be trampled, or frozen, into the American ice sculpture. I could see and hear it all better from the TV at work, and get paid doing it.

But there’s the next dilemma. If I try to get to my downtown DC office to get paid watching the Inauguration on TV, I STILL have to go through all the crowds and hassle. I won’t be able to drive to work, because I work a short distance from the parade route. Roads will be closed. Chances are garages will be full. I will still have to ride the subway to work with the elated Inaugural masses and probably give directions all the way. (Because Washingtonians are friendly like that.)

Some readers may laugh at my quandry. At least I don’t have to pay for a hotel in the area, if I could find one.

It’s just that the rest of the year, we hear the motorcade coming, we pause in our travels, and if it’s the President – Washingtonians know how to tell – we glance at each other and nod, “Hm, he must just be back from Kyoto.” We know how to deal with Presidents in D.C.

But this one, grand, celebratory day, the REST of the country is invited to come by and make a big fuss of things. It would be so much simpler if it was a nice, quiet tea party somewhere in Georgetown, but we did ask for Change, didn’t we?

I’m thinking that somebody sent out too many invitations for our little garden party, but luckily I’m not in charge of baking the cupcakes or ordering the folding chairs. Change is good, but scary. And I’m a bit scared that some flowerbeds may get trampled.

So, America, if you’re visiting your Nation’s Capital for the Inauguration, welcome to Washington. Please consider your hosts. Wipe your feet before you come in. Try not to litter. Ask for directions. We really are glad you came. Really.

DC is just giddy!

November 07, 2008 By: dcgrrl Category: america, DC, election, Obama, president, Washington

Really, no one in Washington knows quite how to handle this.

Keep in mind that Washington, D.C. is largely Democratic. It has been for, well, forever. This place was known as Chocolate City at one time. And true Washingtonians do still lovingly call it that at times. It’s a liberal town.

According to the 2006 census figures, Washington has about 581,530 residents. About 20% are under 18, less than 13% are 65 and over. And less than 39% are white. Over 56% are black, the rest being Latino, Asian, Pacific Islander, etc. It’s a young and colorful town.

And we’re pretty middle class. In 2004 the median household income in Washington D.C. was reported at $46,211/year, which is really hard for me to believe, because my rent for a one bedroom apartment was at least $1,500/month, and that $46k only works out to about $3,850/month.

Washington is a strange place, because D.C. is the Nation’s Capital, but not everyone’s life focuses on the business of the government. We all support the government in a way, but when you’re working at a restaurant or a theater or a school, you don’t think of yourself as a government contractor. And then there are all of the non-profits that are based here, doing good work, and it is beneficial to be headquartered close to the seat of power, but they are certainly not working FOR the government. So we end up with all these special interest groups, artisans, chefs, teachers, waiters and entertainers mulling about this city that was founded only for the sake of running our government. How strange!

Stranger still, we odd fellows have come to love this town, to own it, and we feel we’ve earned a dedication to it more than the politicians that come and go, at the whim of their electorate.

George W. Bush was not at all like us. But this Obama, we feel like he is like us. There are Kenyan sons dancing in nightclubs in Adams Morgan. There are Kenyan fathers driving taxi cabs. And there are young couples like Michelle and Barack at Howard University. And at Georgetown Law School. And doing community organizing in Anacostia.

Some of us Washingtonians were beginning to wonder if there were enough people like us out there in the rest of the country any more to send us a President that understands the city he is sent to live in. Or would we only be happy in the perimeter world of ethnic restaurants, NGOs and grad school programs?

Well, it has happened! America is finally as young and colorful as its capital. We can’t wait to welcome Obama and his family to their new home.

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Special Edition

November 05, 2008 By: dcgrrl Category: DC, news, newspaper, Obama, Post, president, sold out

The Washington Post sold out within hours today, and newspaper boxes were empty all over town. When they announced a special edition was coming out, lines formed. CVS on K Street was so thick with people that shopping was impossible, and The Post itself saw something it hasn’t seen in a while. People hungering for that paper edition.

Sure, I was huddled around my phone watching Post updates during the concert last night. Because electronic news fits in a smaller pocket than a newspaper does.

But this afternoon I watched as a line formed up 15th Street, at the Post’s back copy window. All the way up the street to M Street, Washingtonians waited until the familiar cyan blue Washington Post delivery van pulled up to the driveway to deliver the afternoon commemorative edition with the headline “Obama Makes History.”

And Washington made a little tiny history as they hungered for this paper, that’s documented so many other moments for our nation. And Marcus Brauchli, the new editor, came out to see the people he’s just begun to serve. And Kathryn Weymouth came out to see that Washingtonians do still care about news on pages you can turn.

You just can’t scrapbook a website.

The party’s only started!

November 05, 2008 By: dcgrrl Category: DC, Obama, president, Washington

dscf3104I’ve been twittering (or tweeting – whatever you call it) feverishly for a few days now. It’s been madness. It all started on Monday night when my husband and I decided to rush out to Manassas, Virginia and join the final Obama rally.

If you went to any of these rallies, you know how crazy they can be. If you didn’t, I’ll try to paint a picture for you.

  • NOON I left work, got home and changed, and we drove from our place to Manassas, staying off main roads to avoid the traffic.
  • 2 p.m. We got to Manassas, to find traffic slowing near the Prince William fairgrounds, our destination. So we took the gamble and decided to park in a nearby shopping center, walking the remaining mile or so. This was a good idea.
  • 3 p.m. We were probably within the first 2,000 people in line.
  • 5 p.m. The gates opened. All food had to be trashed, no bags allowed. We were given a bottle of water each and herded in through the animal sheds to the security gates. Our last chance at plumbing, the first chance since 2 p.m. Security checks involved purse searches, metal detector, checking to be sure cameras and cellphones worked.
  • 5:30 p.m. We got in close, about 10 people back from the stage, I managed to sneak in food in my pockets. There are no seats, and there are 10 songs being played on rotation. I hate them all now – I remember ‘Beautiful Day’ ‘Born in the USA’ and ‘Respect.’ Phone reception is awful.
  • 8:30 p.m. A local R&B band comes out. Note this is three hours later. In the interval we have been listening to the same 10 songs and watching it get dark. This band sucks.
  • 9 p.m. A minister comes out for an invocation, tells us Obama is delayed, and a few local politicians speak, and then the band is back. Nooooooooooo!
  • 10 p.m. Mark Warner and Governor Kaine come out and FINALLY announce that Senator Barack Obama is here!
  • 10:30-11 p.m. (approx) Obama speaks. Then he actually goes down into the crowd and shakes hands with people. By this time, I am running so fast to the port-a-pots, Sarah Palin couldn’t shoot me. There is now a mob of 75,000-100,000 Obama fans flooding out of Prince William fairgrounds trying to find their car and figure out how to get out of Manassas. Not to mention how to get U2′s ‘Beautiful Day’ out of our heads.

So that was my Monday night. All the pain and suffering I went through was nothing, though. Senator Obama came out and delivered an inspiring speech, energetically, after doing the same thing TWICE earlier that day. And the day before, I’m sure. And being personally attacked 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, for months. I have the same respect for Senator McCain. The Presidential campaign process has that one thing in common with the Presidential job – the 24-7 schedule.

Tuesday morning I got up, rushed to the polls, voted and off to work. Left work early to hit the 9:30 Club for the historic Bad Brains show, and we got home as the results started rolling in.

Washington, DC is elated. This is historic. We are a young, international, Democratic town, sick and tired of being looked down on by the world and bored of conservative parties. The signs are only starting to go up to welcome Obama and his crew. The Washington Post sold out this morning and is putting together a commemorative afternoon edition. Inauguration is going to be a blast.

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Party politics

October 29, 2008 By: dcgrrl Category: DC, party, politics, president, W, Washington

Being a Washingtonian means looking at the election in a very different way.

Our unique perspective, living all cozy up to the White House, means that we don’t crane our necks when a motorcade goes by, we just drum our fingers or thank goodness for an excuse to be five minutes late to our meeting.

But every four years things can change up. There are those of us who live here and there are some people who just work here. And for those who work ‘at the pleasure of the President,’ it will be sayonara in December. There are contractors that are already working hard on transition packages; these are instruction packets for the next team, whoever it may be. And for the first few months of 2009, even old Washingtonians will be craning their necks when the motorcade goes by, because it will look a bit different than W’s did.

One of the first things that changed when W. came into office was the license plate. He would not carry the “Taxation Without Representation” license plate on his limo. So when the Presidential limo dropped Clinton off at the Capitol, it had to swap license plates before George W would get into it. That was a big deal for some Washingtonians.

Something else changed when W came to town. The parties slowed down. Since W doesn’t drink, the parties went dry. As a result, the cabs had a lot less business.

Inauguration parties are coming, and everyone will be having one of those, whether they’re happy or sad about the outcome. Now we can’t even serve anything that requires a fork to a congressman, due to new ethics considerations. But I hope that doesn’t mean we can’t serve anything that requires a glass. I’m really hoping the parties increase in the next administration.

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