Saturday, April 12, 2008

Update from Obamaland

Yesterday: mid-seventies and sunny.

Today: low forties and drizzly, with possible snow tonight.

Guh. April.

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I meant to write more about the Robert Hass reading the other day, but I guess I don't really have that much to say about it. It was quite good; I don't know his work as well as I should, but I'm now reading Sun Under Wood and enjoying it a great deal (after falling in love with his poem "Iowa City: Early April" when he read it Monday). Something about his work reminds me of Mark Doty's in a way, though their subject matter is very different in many ways -- I'll have to think about this some more. Something about the way they both move between descriptive narrative and what you might call philosophical assertions, plus they both write long poems that sort of move down the page in similar ways.

Also, during the interview/Q&A before the reading, Hass mentioned the work of local writer Scott Russell Sanders several times, which was nice. Sanders is a fantastic essayist -- if you haven't read his work, I highly recommend it.

Yes, Hass did read "Meditation at Lagunitas." The undergrad student next to me, dutifully taking notes, was jotting down titles. This one made it to her notebook as "Meditation at ????"

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When I was a kid I always noticed that middle-aged ladies wore cardigans draped over their shoulders rather than putting their arms in the sleeves. I always thought this was strange. Now that I am a middle-aged lady myself, I understand: it's because when the hot flash hits, if your arms are in the sleeves it takes too long to get that cardigan off your sweaty self. Ah, the acquired wisdom of middle age.

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Yesterday, Barack Obama was scheduled to speak in Columbus and in Terre Haute, with an interesting gap of several hours in between. Bloomington, where I live, is smack in between those two cities. Rumors were flying all day, and from my desk at work I kept checking up on the local newspaper's website where various people were posting credible and less credible things in the comment stream.

Obama did make a "surprise" appearance at the women's Little 500 bike race (the women's race is always on Friday afternoon and the men's race is on Saturday -- if you've seen the movie Breaking Away you know about the Little 500). I found out a bit ahead of time that he would be there, but decided not to leave work early and brave the crowds. But then I started hearing fairly credible rumors that he would be making an appearance somewhere downtown. A few minutes before 5, he was still at the bike race, and when I left work I decided to go hang out downtown just on the off chance -- it was a gorgeous day, so the worst thing that would happen would be I'd get a little bored.

There were great crowds of people near the Sample Gates (entrance to campus) and around the front of Nick's (a popular and long-standing local watering hole). Going on a strong hunch, I headed for Nick's, and once I got there found out that the mayor had been seen there, so I knew I was in the right place -- doubly so when the motorcycle cops showed up and other cops started moving us back to clear the sidewalk.

Rumor travels fast, and there were several thousand people on the street by the time Obama showed up. You could tell where he was by the sound-wave of cheering that followed him as he walked, and also by the giant boom microphone being held over his head. I didn't get a glimpse of him as he went into Nick's, but stayed put as the cops kept us pushed back. Obama stayed in Nick's for maybe fifteen minutes, and when he left the cops released their hold on us and we swarmed after him -- thousands of people cheering, holding up cameras and cellphones to try to snap a shot. I finally managed to get a good glimpse of him just before he got back on board his bus, with that big Obama grin on his face as the crowd broke into a spontaneous chant of "Yes we can! Yes we can!"

Even though I got just the briefest glimpse of him, I am so glad I was there. The energy of that crowd was amazing -- it wasn't like anything else I have ever been a part of. People were happy, inspired, energized. Afterwards people walked around talking to friends and to strangers, talking on their cellphones: "I saw him!" "I shook his hand!!!"

Understand, we are not used to seeing Presidential candidates here. Indiana is such a "red state" that nobody bothers campaigning at us for the general election, and by the time our first-Tuesday-in-May primary rolls around the nominees have usually been decided. This is the first time I can remember that our primary has carried any weight. So it's all new and pretty exciting for us.

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I think I drank too much coffee today. But I have 3 new poem drafts, so it was worth it.


LKD said...

April is the new March.

Aren't you a wee bit young to be experiencing hot flashes?

Anne said...

I'll be 47 next month, so really not too young at all. :)

Radish King said...

Menopause, alas, knows no age boundaries. My friend went through it at 35. Another friend at work is 45 and is having hot flashes. Yay for layered clothing!

Jessie Carty said...

I know what you mean about the elections. I actually hurridely changed my registration from Independent just so I could vote in the May primary that doesn't mormally matter down in NC.

Heck my husband even registered to vote and he hasn't voted since Ross Perot ran.