Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Cat goes to Washington for the 57th Presidential Inauguration


So DC.

I have put this off for far too long. And I currently (gasp!) have no hw to do, and I already practiced and am bored out of my mind so here we go!

As we were pulling out. 
We left for DC on bus number one (nicknamed the Struggle Bus), at 8am. Deon and I conked out for another 2-4 hours or so until we pulled into a church where we were all fed Chick Fil A.
Michael is Grumpy Cat 

Thanks Heather :P 

I have to say, this entire trip was organized brilliantly. Only one mishap happened and even that was dealt with efficiently and quickly. They thought of EVERYTHING. All the people who worked behind the scenes for us really deserve a hand (and probably a long nap).

A million more hours on the bus where everyone basically went nuts. First off, this bus was filled with a lot of people I knew. Most of it was Deon's choir Chorale and then a few of us Ladies, and then one or two new people from other choirs that we swiftly made friends with. Loud laughter over memes, videos, whoever had last farted, (it happens. deal), etc happened. We hit DC around 8pm and got stuck on the Beltway for a reallllly long time. I did not miss that mess. For this dear readers, is my neck of the woods. I am from Pennsylvania and D.C. is about 2 and a half hours from my house. The last time I was there was the summer before freshman year visiting my aunt. I did the Smithsonian, the monument, and all that with my friend Frank at the time, but it was a whole other experience doing it with Deon and all my friends. We hit our hotel around 9 and the usual hysteria resulted with unloading and finding our rooms. There were four people to a room. My chosen roomie was my awesome friend Heather and then we got paired up with Sara and Ashley who proved to be really hysterical awesome roommates for four days! We got pretty lucky. :)
Ashley and I

Sara and I

The next day, we got a free day in DC which was so fantastic!!! Deon, Nick and I did a LOT of walking. We started off the day with the Monument obviously. Nick was our photographer and took lots of obnoxious couple pics of Deon and I throughout the day. Thankfully he didn't mind too much! We didn't go in and see as much of the Smithsonian exhibits as we would have liked, but I did get to go see the First Lady Dresses again (even the boys got really into it), and for Nick we went to see the Star Spangled Banner. For lunch we stopped at an AWESOME Irish pub on 7th street. I had a shepherd's pie that was delicious and we got to sit by a cozy fire. It def made me miss Ireland. I can't wait to go back one day. Deon had never been in an Irish pub before either and he really liked it!! I am slowly trying to introduce him to new types of restaurants and develop his palate a little more. He's a pretty picky eater but he's starting to branch out!

By the White House. 

We took way too many pics. 

My buddy Abe. 
On the way back up 7th street we stopped at this little cupcakery I had been eyeing. I'm not a huge sweets person, but they had RED VELVET cupcakes which is my huge weakness. It was def the best cupcake I have ever had. Deon got cookies and cream, and Nick got one called Southern Belle.

The sun was starting to set, but Deon really wanted to see the Vietnam memorial so we raced to that. It was also my first time seeing it because Frank and I spent most of our time at the Smithsonian when I was last there.  The Vietnam memorial was particularly moving for Deon and I. He was trying to find a relative that he thought fought in it, but the names aren't on there in alphabetical order which we thought was strange. Deon concluded that if they had been put in a specific order, it would have made it less personal. So many people were there leaving candles and flowers. We walked through silently. I felt such compassion for all of these people who were here mourning lost loved ones. It shocked me how many names there were. You know that many men and women go to war, but you never can imagine how many in your mind until you see all the names of those who were killed. It definitely made me somber and I thanked God for protecting not only myself, but so many people I love and our nation. After our loonngg day, we went back to the hotel and rehearsed for an hour or so and then got dinner and went to bed.

Michael and Deon 

The area which has been closed off since 9/11
The next day we got to go to the capital for our sound check! We wore our pea coats to test them out that we had been given for the performance, and we ran through all our songs. The area we got to walk through of the capital had not been opened to the public since 9/11 and so the fact we got to walk through there and STAND there to perform for the nation was a huge deal and an honor. It felt so strange standing up there. I have a little bit of vertigo so climbing up risers from that high of a spot made me a little nervous. One of the pieces we sang called "All That Hath Life and Breath Praise Ye The Lord" ends with an Alleluia. The final chord echoed amazingly out across DC to the Washington Monument and we all gasped in awe. This whole experience was obviously exciting to all of us but I don't think it hit us the magnitude of what we were doing until we did that sound check. I started to tear up because I was so overwhelmed at how God has blessed me and my school.

Soprano 2's!
Ladies of Lee 

Millie and I with the Conns. 
 P.S. Millie and I got pics with the Conns. We can now officially graduate. 

I love this pic!

After the sound check, we got about 3 more hours to explore DC some more.  Nick, Deon and I went to get lunch and then were planning to go to the Holocaust Museum and the Archives, but our very rude and slow waitress kept us at the restaurant longer than planned, so we only had time to get some gelato. The boys had never had any of this either, so that was a fun. :) The final thing we did before we got on the bus was get as close as we could to the capital and look at it while the sun set. Besides when we sang, that moment was my favorite from the trip. It looked so beautiful and peaceful and I just remember thinking how happy I was and what a beautiful life I live. We stared at it in silence for a while lost in our own thoughts. Then Deon turned and said to me: "You know, I really like D.C. I wanna come back this summer with you when we have more time and explore the Smithsonian just the two of us." I'm glad it won him over! I'm def an East Coast girl at heart.

Then our one and only mishap of the trip happened. Our group was about 230 people total and we had all met at our designated spot to get on our buses, count off, and then go to the hotel for an early dinner and bedtime. Well, it was rush hour, people were arriving in town for the Inauguration, and our buses couldn't even get off the highway to us. They ended up telling the buses to go back to the hotel and all 230 of us made our way to the Metro. I've ridden the Subway, but never the Metro before and I was a little nervous. I'm also pretty claustrophobic and crowds make me really stressed out. Dr. Green bought tickets in 20 bulk and handed them all out to us and we got in groups and took different metros to Silver Springs where our hotel was. It was pretty exciting!! Even though we were worried people would get left behind or lost, no one did and we all ended back at the hotel in one piece. We had a group dinner, final words, and went to bed.
Metro Adventures

Yup folks I was on ABC. A few times in fact. Thanks to Ethan for this shot!

At 4am my alarm woke me up. I quickly dressed in all the thermal clothing I could put on my body, and headed to the bus with my bags. The day had finally come!! I conked out on the bus because I felt like I had gotten no sleep. When we got to the Holding room, we all warmed up, had breakfast, and took last minute pics and prayed together. Then we filed into our lines to walk across the street to the capital. As we walked, so many people cheered for us and said "Go LeeU!" It's amazing how this whole experience has put our small school on the map particularly for the East Coast. I didn't know about Lee at all where I lived though it's well known in the South. I just happened to find it by accident (though let's be real, God wanted me to find it). We got in our places and we saw people starting to file in to their seats below us. It was slightly windy, but nowhere as cold as we expected it to be which was a huge blessing. The children's choir sang first, then it was us!! We sang for 16 minutes which was more than any of the other performers that day. We managed to get through almost all of the 9 songs we had learned. The crowd was so far from us we weren't sure we would hear them clapping, but after our first song "This Land" we were all taken aback by how loud the cheers were! They liked us!!! I tried to drink in every moment while I sang. It's an opportunity I know I will probably never have again and that day will go down as one of the best days of my life. I thank God I got to do what I love most to witness and serve my nation and president, and to top it all off, do it with all the people I love most. Simply incredible!

Me and my boo Andrew 
After we were done, we got to sit through the rest of the ceremony. We were up there for about 4 hours. It got a tad cold my body was almost all numb by the end! But we got a front row view of all the important guests and celebrities like Kelly Clarkson, Beyonce, Jay-Z, John Legend (who waved at the soprano section and we all flailed like idiots), Cindi Lauper (who congratulated us as she left), and James Taylor. I also spotted the Clintons and John Kerry. The most exciting was John Mayer and Katy Perry (who I both LOVE). They came to see the children's choir which stood alongside us. So some of the bass section and faculty saw them up close and got some great shots! I saw them from a distance, but oh how I wish they had walked down to my section! I think they were going to, but the ceremony was beginning and they had to go back to their seats. We listened to Beyonce, James Taylor and Kelly Clarkson sing. They all did wonderfully although Beyonce was my favorite. We listened to the poem, the speeches given by the President and Vice President Biden. I couldn't see Michelle or the girls that well, but I LOVED their outfits! Especially the girls coats. They always dress so classy. His daughters are so pretty. After the ceremony ended, we filed off and immediately hauled butt to the buses to try to get out of the city before it became impossible. We made it on the road and alternated between freaking out about the whole day, checking fb, instagramming our pics, and sleeping. Some of my friends literally laid on the floor of the bus because they were so worn out lol. As we drove, we got word about all the articles, and comments made about us. Apparently CSPAN and ABC showed us a lot more than we expected and one of those stations even cut off an interview saying they needed to hear our choir sing. We were so surprised we got so much airtime being the prelude show. We got more coverage than a lot of the performers did. I also got tweeted congratulations by Nellie Veitenheimer from The Glee Project! After about 12 hours we made it safely back to Lee around midnight and I went back to my room and slept through my first two classes lol.

It was the most fun trip of my life and I still can't believe it happened. If you didn't catch us singing here is the full 16 minutes of it!! You will def see me a few times if you look.

And some more pics:

My view from my seat of the crowd. 

Deon in his section which was on the opposite end of me. 

President Obama addressing the nation. If you look on the right side there is Michelle and the girls. :) 
Lee had us decked out! 
John Mayer and Katy Perry (photo credit: Susan LaBarr) 
Us warming up.

The upper balcony is us, the faculty, and the Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir who were so wonderful! 

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