Sunday, October 31, 2010

"We Live in Hard Times, Not End Times"

So, yesterday was the Rally to Restore Sanity and/or Fear in Washington, D.C. And it was amazing! I'm still exhausted from the trip, but it was an amazing time!

Rachel and I left our building at 2 am Saturday to head to Penn Station. We had an event free taxi ride, and a low-drama time waiting for our train (though the police did come through, banging night sticks on columns and making everyone who was sitting on the floor stand up. For no discernible reason). At 3 am we boarded our sold out train and headed south to D.C.

We arrived in D.C. at 7 am, and I was happy to be back. I still have a lot of fondness for the city since my time living there two years ago. We went to a diner (Pete's Diner) for breakfast. It was just what you hope for from a diner breakfast - fast, cheap, filling, and not especially greasy. The decorations were a bit strange; the restaurant had clearly leaned heavily towards an Asia theme in their decorating, but had also gone all out for Halloween. This led to unexpected golden Buddha/cobweb and tapestry/pumpkin combinations. There was also a small Christmas tree on the counter.

After breakfast we met up with my dad and Ali, who had come from Charleston to attend the rally. We headed to the Mall - arriving at around 9 am. It was already pretty darn full! We got a spot in the first block, fairly near the Capitol. If I stood on tiptoes and tilted my head to the side, I could see the stage. I also had an excellent view of one of the giant screens it was being shown on.

Considering how widely broadcast and viewed the rally was, it would seem silly to give a play by play here (though anyone who missed it can watch highlights by clicking here). We did the wave with the Mythbusters, were continuously surprised by the people who came out of the tent ("I didn't know Cat Stevens was allowed in the country." "Ozzy? Seriously?" "It's like a random celebrity roulette wheel!"), and laughed at all of the comedy. To be honest, I could have done with a little less in the way of musical guests - but that's just me. It was a great time, and Jon Stewart's speech at the end was perfect!

Afterwards, the Capitol was completely flooded with people (it seems most estimates are that around 215,000 people attended the rally), so finding a place to sit down and eat was tough. But we desperately needed to sit down and eat, as it had been eight hours since Pete's Diner. We finally flagged a cab, and managed to get to a pizza place on U Street mere moments before other ralliers started clogging the doors. The pizza was excellent, but most anything would have been good at that point.

We had planned to do some touristy stuff in the five hours before our train came - we got in the metro and everything. But even though the crowds had largely dispersed above ground, it was shoulder to shoulder down there. We headed towards Dupont Circle to go see the embassies, and while waiting for the train to take us there we came to the mutual conclusion that we were way too tired. We fought our way back to Union Station, and spent a couple hours alternating between vacant staring into space and wild giggling at not much. We got ice cream from the Ben and Jerry's stand.

Finally, at 10 pm, we boarded the train back to New York. We got a free upgrade to business class, and spent half of the trip dozing. At 2 am we were back in the city, and started trying to flag cabs back to the Village. The first refused to take us, and the second only did after we agreed to pay double on the fare. Both of those things are against the rules in the world of New York taxis, and had I been feeling my sharpest, I probably would have taken their license plate numbers and reported them. But I had been up for 30 hours at that point (and that 30 hours was preceded by a four hour nap, not a proper night's sleep), so I just agreed to pay the extra and let it go.

Today I was still pretty tired, so I slept in and laid low. I gave out candy to the trick or treaters in my building, and did some readings for school. It was incredibly worth it though - the rally was fantastic!

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