Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Getting to Know the New Boss

It may have been the air conditioning. It may have been the electricity of D.C. on Inauguration Day. Or maybe it was the copious snack food, the mimosas, the excitement of Bush leaving office, the pleasant conversation, the domesticated dogs, the real couch, the game of cards, the hotness of Soledad O’Brien’s voice, the smooth confidence of Michelle, the genuine charm of Sasha and Malia, or maybe it was the gravitas of Barack Obama himself. Whatever it was, it made the last 20 hours really really fun.

After I posted yesterday’s blog, I met up with Koa and Blakey for dinner, we grabbed some snacks, and then headed up the mountain to the Charges-Affairs’s house. PCV Hannah was already there because she’d been housesitting at the house for the 3 nights prior. I had been looking forward to last night / this morning since Wednesday, and I was a little nervous at first. Word had spread among Peace Corps volunteers, and I worried that we would overwhelm the house of poor Robin (the Charges-Affairs) with a bunch of dusty hooligans who were looking for a chance at a pool swim and a hot shower. These fears grew when Robin told us to put our cokes in the refrigerator next to the sparkling wine that we’d use for the mimosas.

In the end, 5 additional volunteers showed up: Kate, Christian, Ben, Erica, and Casey. Robin had to go to the airport to pick up some cargo for the embassy, so the 9 of us made ourselves comfortable. And the Charges-Affairs’s house is comfortable. Like I mentioned above, the entire house is air conditioned, the toilets function like toilets, and the couches are big and comfortable. Blakey, Koa, Erica, and I played some Euchre while the other guys watched some TV shows that Casey had on his computer.

When Robin returned, we turned on the movie “Volunteers,” which she has on VHS. I had never seen it before, but given that the movie is about the Peace Corps, it had a whole extra dimension of humor. Perhaps the best part is when Tom Hanks narrowly escapes the throes of a goon by slamming the airplane door, only to turn around and see all the volunteers in coach singing “Michael, Row Your Boat Ashore.” Although also funny, and more true to our experience was when a diligent but exhausted Rita Wilson sees apathetic Tom Hanks speaking perfect Thai. She asks, “You learned to speak Thai?” And he replies matter-of-factly, “How else do you expect me to communicate?”

We had heard that things would get started between 3:00 and 3:30 Samoa time, so I only got about an hour of sleep (if you can call it that). And then I proceeded to watch 9 hours of banter and pageantry. Some observations I made were:
  • Michelle Obama has an impeccable sense of fashion;
  • Wolf Blitzer is an idiot;
  • CNN spends far too much time highlighting bizarre new-fangled technologies that don’t translate well to TV (e.g. the 3-D picture that was not really 3-D and the exclusive satellite pictures);
  • Anderson Cooper sounds like Bill Maher;
  • Bill Clinton looks really good, George H. W. Bush looks frail; and
  • Having Yo-Yo Ma and Itzak Perlman play at your inauguration is way cool. We should have had them play our Peace Corps Swearing-In.
The poet laureate was not good at reading her own poem. The content sounded interesting, but her diction was ridiculous and distracting. I was also happy to hear that it was John Roberts rather than Barack Obama who flubbed the Presidential Oath. It was funny, but awkward, and it showed that both Obama and Roberts are human. But still, I’m happy it was Roberts’ fault and not Obama’s. Finally, I wanted to give Orrin Hatch a hug when CNN reporters were grilling him on Ted Kennedy’s seizure. Poor Orrin Hatch. Sure he’s a conservative idiot, but who wants to go on national TV when his/her friend has suffered a seizure?

In any case, we did get to go in the pool, and we did get hot showers. We left promptly at noon today. The event was a complete success as far as I was concerned.

The evening/morning was such a good time that I felt a little depressed when we had to leave and return to our solitary lives in Samoa. At first I really thought it was the Obamas. I thought that I enjoyed watching their family so much and that I enjoyed Barack Obama’s cool, confident smile. Between the inauguration coverage, the air conditioning, the domesticated dogs, and the comfy sofas, things felt like home. And admittedly, it was a sad little awakening when we left to head back to Apia.

Oh well. Apia is fine. It’s been very hot the last two days.

I hope things are well back home with you and your new president. Hooray! Pictures below.

The group pre-sleep. Left to right: Kate, Koa, Blakey, Erica, Christian, Ben, Casey.

John Candy in "Volunteers"

The group once things started to get underway. Left to right: Robin, Kate, Blakey, Ben (sleeping), Koa, Casey, Erica, Me, Hannah.

Our spread this morning. Left to right: Seal-printed glasses, sparkling wine, orange juice, bloody mary mix, vodka, sugar doughnuts, milk, chocolate doughnuts, coffee.
What do you think: I realize that bloody marys are normally served in the morning after a night of drinking, but we didn't drink the night before. Not sure if bloody marys are still appropriate in this situation. Are they strictly a morning-after drink? Or can they just be a morning drink?

Me at the pool when things got slow.


Anonymous said...

A hangover is not required in order to have a bloody mary. It's a morning drink and does not have to follow a night of drinking! Isn't it great to feel hopeful? We had champagne at 9 am at Paddy's in Union City!

Unknown said...

I don't require etiquette for drinking. Morning, afternoon, evening, a drink is still a drink. I had water with a breakfast sandwich myself.

marija said...

It sounds like you guys had a great time...Go PCV's!!!
I was at the UMass Student Union Auditorium showing on a big screen with mostly faculy and staff laughing, crying, clapping but no drinking....(students are still on winter break)....
Koa's mom

Barb Carusillo said...

It may not seem so, but it was an actual advantage that the live viewing of the inauguration events came in the middle of the night there. At least you could sit and watch it in a group. Our secretary , who is biracial herself, was especially bummed that she had to work all day and could not see it. Seeing bits and pieces on the news later was not the same as seeing it in a group live. (Sara's mom)

Anonymous said...

I found your blog while back but then went to other things, then I found it again when I was looking up googling the Our Father in Samoan. I wanted to comment about Ben sleeping during the inaugration.....mabye he is Repubulican :)

Anonymous said...

Conservative idiots??? Then, there must be Liberal Idiots!!!