The single best thing about living in DC is that people I love come into town frequently for one reason or another. Since presidential inaugurations only come around every four years, MANY people I love came into town at the same time. I had been training my liver for this weekend for awhile.
My only other DC inauguration experience was when I covered Bush’s first inauguration in 2001 as an intern for WFAA-TV. Attending that swearing-in ceremony was the coldest I’ve ever been. I remember getting dressed up for the Texas State Society’s Black Tie and Boots ball in the public bathroom of Belo’s DC bureau building at 13th and G. I remember anchor Gloria Campos being in DC to anchor the coverage and wanting her scripts printed in bigger type, and how I had to help rush reporter Jim Fry into a cab so he could go do a post-parade live shot.
I remain on maternity leave, so I got to take part in this inauguration as a straight-up spectator. I skipped the weekend balls but was looking forward to the Common/T-Pain/John Legend concert since, as many of you know, Stiles loves loves LOVES Common. (BTW: Where WASN’T John Legend this weekend? Anyway.) We waited until the day before to respond to the ticket email and it was too late. Instead, we went to a delicious Indian restaurant for our 2nd anniversary dinner, seven months late. (Hey, 2012 was a little busy, okay?)
Non-Political Animals. John Bracken and his family came in town from Chicago, so we went on a zoo trip with our little girls. Eva slept through the pandas but was marginally awake for the apes.
Much fun with the Matts. Matt Fuller (heretofore known as State Department Matt) invited me and Terp to dinner with him and a mysterious friend, who we later learned was Dick Cheney’s right-hand man. (Presented without commentary.) We ended up going to an “art soiree” exhibit of political cartoons where the “journalism band”, Suspicious Package, was performing. It was so random and so fun and so boozy. We weren’t in good head spaces to walk the half mile back to my car, so we got a cab and in the span of that four minute ride, Matt and the cabbie ended up in a heated argument about intervention in Syria. The next morning, Matt Mullenweg (heretofore International Man of Mystery Matt) wanted brunch, so a few of us took part in deliciousness to try and cure our hangovers.
Texas Forever, Y’all. A big weekend highlight for me was dropping in on a packed Texans-in-DC celebration at a barbecue place, naturally. Lots of my reporter friends were there, including Jim Fry, the former WFAA reporter I interned for three inaugurations ago. It was so nice to see old friends and old sources, like the Texas legislators who have now become Texas congressmen.
The Actual Ceremony Stuff. We had great tickets to be close in to watch the swearing-in, but so did tens of thousands of others. So after cycling down to our gate and standing in a sea of humanity to pass through security to get on the Capitol grounds, Matty got claustrophobic and I got bored. Thankfully we also had invites to a private viewing party in a lounge at the Newseum, my favorite DC museum and also the only one that’s right on Pennyslvania Avenue, facing the parade route. We bailed on waiting for security and headed to the indoor party instead. There, we got to hang out with some of my favorite people in innovation — Michael and John from Knight, Hillary from IDEO, Glenn from Twitter, Mark from Mozilla and Andrew, formerly White House Deputy CTO and former Tumblr President. Those folks make for an awesome way to spend an afternoon. And since I think anything below 60 degres is cold, it was primo to be right on the parade route, but indoors.
Quiet Nightcap. My pal Dave has a toddler and a newborn at home, so he’s been far more discerning about how he spends his time. It was a special treat, then, for him to join Maness and me for beers and bourbon to wrap up the crazy day/weekend. I had started drinking at noon but this was the kind of meandering conversation in which we found ourselves taking notes — books to read, albums to check out, concepts to think more deeply about. “I don’t have enough nights out where I have to take notes,” Dave said. And neither do I. Even though none of us needed to be out until 2am (again), it made for a warm way to end the historic weekend.