Yes, I promised to write up about our trip to Obama's second inauguration and here goes.
First thing: GO TO AN INAUGURATION. WoW! That was fun! And we didn't actually attend the inauguration out on the lawn; we saw it in a warm and cozy office on an enormous, flat-screen TV with like-minded other folks. But more on that later. Let me tell you why I think you should go: lots of energy and live events the public can go to; political celebrity sightings in close quarters; and just being part of what you know is history.
So here are the things I'd advise you to do.
1) We stayed at a condo in DC. My friend found one (through her magical ways) and six of us shared it (except an absence or two due to the flu). At approximately one mile from the capitol, it was within walking distance to nearly everything we went to. Last time, my friend has stayed in the 'burbs and did not have as much fun as this time. So bring a group and stay in the city.
2) You probably know folks who live in and around DC. Another cool thing about going to DC is hooking up with friends in the area. I got to see some of our UNC Charlotte I/O alumnae and feel especially cool hanging out with them. (Our condo was in a trendy/transitional spot near where none of my friends live, so I am very grateful for them arriving by cab/metro/boyfriend to see me!)
3) There are a TON of affordable events for the public (besides balls) in which you can meet and interact with like minded other folks. They were a little pricey, but being the very cheap women that we were/are, we also had drinks and meals at them. Our first reception was for the Council for a Livable World, where we met interesting folks and heard brief talks by Senators Martin Heinrich, Angus King, Bernie Sanders, and Tammy Baldwin (!). The really nifty thing is that this same group hosted viewing party the next day for the inauguration for which snacks were provided. (I work at a university, you see. We rarely get snacks and when we do, it's a big deal. Hence my inordinate excitement for snacks at events) We went to the 21st Century Democrats reception that night and, in one of those small world encounters, a) saw some of the same people from the morning reception and b) found out we have connections with them through our work.
4) Visiting the memorials during an inauguration weekend is very moving. We went to the new MLK memorial. It was packed!! We saw a swarm of people at the base of the memorial as we walked up and thought, Wow! It must be very moving!! Then we heard that Chris Tucker and Jamie Foxx were in the center of that swarm. So, no, we didn't see them, but we saw the swarm of people around them and we saw their car as they drove off. Nonetheless, we count that as our Hollywood Celebrity sighting. Generally, the MLK memorial is pretty awesome. It was also cool seeing all his quotes and realizing that our church is founded on many of the same beliefs. We also saw the Lincoln Memorial, WHICH IS HUGE, and the Vietnam Memorial which continues to be overwhelming.
5) You should generally be very careful walking around in fake Uggs (Fuggs) watching the little blue arrow move on your smart phone map as you navigate the sidewalks of DC. Otherwise, unless you are more coordinated and graceful than I (WHICH IS NOT THAT HARD), you could trip and fall and injure your knees and hand. I'm sure, however, that like me, you will not damage the phone you were holding. Just a word of caution, torn pants and bleeding knees does not make one feel particularly professional or "fancy" at a DC political reception. Also, HOLY COW my hand still hurts. I had it xrayed on Wednesday and two doctors could not find a fracture, but OOOOOOWWWWWWW it hurts. Anybody who has info on that should let me know.
So that is it, folks. Go! Make your own memories at an inauguration. It's a pretty cool thing to do.