Did we go? Yes, we did!
Y’all heard about this little event, didn’t you? The one where Jon Stewart from The Daily Show got together with Stephen Colbert up in DC? If you didn’t, well then you probably aren’t reading this blog, because you don’t have electricity or something.
But for the rest of you– Joel and I took the Small People on their requested Birthday Train trip and I promise to blog about that. Tomorrow. Not that I’m minimizing the importance of fulfilling their request, or even suggesting that the train trip itself wasn’t awesome (it was, Amtrak–highly recommend)–but my focus tonight is on the rally. Because going to the Rally was, you know, all for me. Seriously, Joel didn’t really feel the strong emotional urge to attend. The boys just wanted to ride a train and a subway. I, however, felt a strong need to be part of this thing that was the opposite of what that other guy did.
You might ask, “so, how was it?” Um, freaking spectacular. It was a little scary to think about all of the things that might have gone wrong, considering the crowds and Small People. But if I let myself be scared of what might go wrong on any given day, none of us would ever leave the house. We took precautions, and honestly is it any worse than taking them to Disney World?
Saturday, 6:30 am
As is always the case with my kids, they wake up earlier when they go to bed later. We were showered, dressed and drinking second cups of coffee when the wake up call came from the front desk. Any other day this would have made me sad, but I hadn’t slept much the night before– I was just like a Small Person on Christmas Eve. Without the cookies.
Saturday, 9:30 am
We had just arrived at the National Mall. The Metro was rush-hour packed, even that early on a Saturday morning. Elliot was securely buckled to my back in the Ergo, Zach was firmly attached to Joel, both of them had phone numbers “tattooed” on their arms with a Sharpie, and the camera was out.
Saturday, 10:00 am
My emotions were already raw and the masses hadn’t even arrived yet. The signs–some funny, some ironic, some ironically funny–were creative and everywhere. So many people took pictures of Zach’s sign.
I kept trying to convince him he was a celebrity, but he didn’t really care much. Elliot’s sign, which I don’t have a picture of since I don’t have freakishly long arms, said, “Time Travel Alert. I’ve spoken with adult me and he says to CHILL OUT.”
The police had set up zones for crowd control. I kept thinking it looked like giant play pens, each filling to capacity with people as time progressed. Now, had the four of us immediately gone to the front (rather than wandering around looking at people) we probably could have scored a spot in the first corral where the stage was located. I’m not bitter about missing out on this. Okay, I’m a little bitter, but I was the one that wanted to wander, thus I have no one to blame but myself.
One dude, but scary enough to prevent a whole lot of civil disobedience. Of course, my people don’t usually bring AK47s or stomp on each other’s heads. For the most part, despite the press of crowded bodies, people were polite and decent.
Saturday, 10:20 am
Zach announces to everyone that he is “done with this rally thing” and that he wants to “go back to the hotel”. On the inside I was thinking, “Holy shit. Do you have any idea how many times I’ve wanted to stay home instead of going on a playdate with screaming preschoolers?” On the outside I said, “this is important to me and I’m not leaving right now. Do you want Daddy to take you to a museum?” Which is how he and Joel ended up at the Air and Space museum while Elliot and I thought about breaking the law.
Saturday, 10:40 am
I am brainstorming with a stranger on the best method of bypassing the fence for the corral around the stage. Even the scary dude had to wander off occasionally to retrieve other jumpers. It would have been reasonably easy if the two law abiding citizens blocking our way would have just moved over 6 inches. Meanwhile, Elliot had unzipped this woman’s bookbag and was rummaging through her available snacks. Then he started kicking another woman in the butt. Repeatedly. I couldn’t stop him from trying to steal from everyone around us and scary Police Dude was now holding zip handcuffs–an obvious warning–and so we moved to a different spot.
Saturday, 11:00 am
Now at the second people corral, I have gotten completely caught up in the excitement of the crowd. It was around this time that I decided (with a group of folks) to jump the fence, Elliot still securely attached to my back. He thinks this is all great fun, “JUMP, mommy! Mommy jumped fence! YAY.” Feel free to remind me that I have done this to myself when–thirteen years from now–I am complaining about having to bail him out of jail for breaking and entering.
Saturday, 12:00 pm
The rally has begun and people are crushing together to try and see the JumboTrons. There is only one legal exit/entry (snort. no, there wasn’t any need to jump the fence–I only needed to walk down another 30 feet) and no amount of pleading and puppy dog eyes would convince the banana-eating sheriff to let me out the easy way (e.g., back over a fence). As I start to consider the possibility of getting the both of us on top of a port-a-potty, I realize that I am no longer making responsible parenting decisions. This coincides nicely with Elliot’s onset of discontent, as he is now yelling, “go find Daddy and Zach” while grabbing at my ears, hair, and pulling down my shirt. After I flash the Sikh guy from Jersey for the second time, I decide it was time to go.
Saturday, 12:30 pm
We find Joel and Zach (amazing, really) and the Small People sit down to an ice cream sandwich lunch. At this point I could hear, but the line of port-a-potties is blocking all of my really good crowd shots, so I come up with the brilliant (not) plan of just cutting across to the other side and listening to the speeches from a distance. Yeah, because no one else had thought of that.
Saturday, 1:45 pm
We finally emerge on the other side of the sea of people. Over an hour to move 200 feet, and it was only that quick because we jumped into the hole created by a departing ambulance. After all that, and seeing the looks on the Small People’s faces, a mutual decision to bail and get back to the hotel is the only reasonable conclusion.
I still cannot believe how well Zach did (Elliot was attempting personal robbery, after all) considering how overwhelming being waist level, surrounded by thousands of people, must have been for him. He was only mildly complaining, and mostly participating (maybe he was afraid we’d ditch him?) in our efforts to move through the crowd. I’m mildly concerned that later in life, when he’s claustrophobic with crowd-anxiety, that he and his therapist will point to this event as the root cause. Or maybe he will chain himself to a tree and protest, like his Momma.
What was the most important message? There were many, and if you think Jon Stewart is just comedic entertainment then I think you aren’t paying attention. Seriously, just fast forward to the last 40 minutes of the show and truly listen to what is being said. Listen to how we are all being manipulated into being scared and what that is doing to our country. I don’t like to be manipulated, do you?
I walked away with two strong thoughts. The first is that Americans can (and do) work side by side with people that believe the opposite of them every single day. If we, the little people, can handle those daily interactions, why can’t our politicians do the same? All of us–political affiliation notwithstanding–need to work harder at remembering that there are real people involved in all of this pandering. Real people in need of government assistance, and real people in need of anti-paranoia medication.
Democrats–do your job, stay on message, and pay attention. Stop letting them get a reaction out of you–or at least the reaction you didn’t intend. The crazy ones will hang themselves, if given the chance. You guys need charts and graphs, and catchy tag lines that you repeat, ad nauseum. You don’t have to lie to use the same selling methods that have worked so well for those “other people”. Republicans–stop pretending you are doing what is best for the economy by not growing government. Y’all grow government to the nth degree every time you are in control…all under the veil of fear. The government that you grow helps no one, other than those out to make a profit off the backs of their fellow countrymen. Tea Partiers–um, I got nothing. Whatever the original intent of your movement might have been, it has been perverted by some of your more vocal members. At least, I hope it’s been perverted.
The second point is that we are a country created by little people who, throughout history, get just pissed off enough make changes. Americans— the numerous personal liberties that we have allowed to be sacrificed in the name of fighting terrorism should scare us more than any other threat. Are you worried about governmental control? Then stop letting them do things like put tracking devices cars without a warrant. Stop letting them turn corporations into people, with freaking voting privileges. Stop letting them convince you that the Iraq war has anything to do with fighting terrorism. Just stop buying everything you’re being sold and use some common sense. Just a little bit.
Fellow sane folks, to get the attention of those that make our laws, we have to get off the couch. But we need to do so, respectfully. When someone calls me an idiot, I stop listening. Don’t you? We don’t need to scream, beat people up, and purchase armor-piercing bullets, but we do need to get off the couch.
You can look at the rest of the pictures here.