November 2008


macheese1I had another one of my (non-pregnant) hormonal outbursts this morning. While looking at the shoes in my closet, I just starting bawling. Because why? I love my family. What my family has to do with my shoes, I don’t know. But that’s where it happened.

I know a lot of people dread holiday family gatherings, and I feel for them. But me? I adore my husband, my family of origin, even my family of in-laws. I am blessed.

I am excited to see my relatives this weekend — four generations of us will gather in a church parish hall to eat turkey, stuffing, dressing, green bean casserole, macaroni and cheese, cake and pumpkin pie.  Mmmm, good.

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choir

Ned and I celebrated our second anniversary this week. On the actual anniversary day, I was staking out congressmen in marble hallways in D.C., and Ned was examining documents in Honduras. Awesome. But happily, we were both able to celebrate together the weekend prior.

The first hymn in our wedding was “Praise to the Lord, the Almighty.”  It’s what Fr. Sloane calls “a real chestnut” of a hymn.  It was one of a few hymns we could find that we thought would be familiar to our friends and family from Catholic, Episcopal and Evangelical backgrounds.  In fact, it was actually the first-ever congregational hymn at my mom’s childhood Catholic church. They weren’t so much into hymn sings back in the day, but when Vatican II started to encourage more congregational singing in the 1960s, my mom’s church dutifully brought everyone in and taught them how to sing “Praise to the Lord, the Almighty.” Because it’s just that kind of hymn.

It was beautiful to hear everyone sing it so enthusiastically at our wedding. I wept.

I wept again when listening to it last weekend. But the hymn sounded very different two years later. On our wedding day, I felt like my mind and body were overflowing with the lyrics — it was a joyous, praiseworthy day. I was in awe of how God had provided for us, led us to that place and called Ned and I together.

Our marriage is still truly wonderful — but I’ve become used to a wonderful marriage, so I often forget to be thankful for it on a daily basis.

(sorry, Ned.)

(sorry, Jesus.)

Recently, I’ve been slightly prone to despair. I’ve dwelt on some of the disappointing things in my life, my friends’ lives, the world … rather than on all of the good things for which I should be so thankful. There is surely more in the “blessings” category than “disappointments.”  But it really only takes one disappointment to take over my whole brain.

Hast thou not seen? Um, yeah, sorry, I haven’t been seeing. Or trusting. Or praising.

I thought of the psalms that start with laments and end with praise, how even in hard times (and it seems that people in the Bible had MUCH harder times than me), God is faithful and worthy of praise.

“My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me? why art thou so far from helping me, and from the words of my roaring? … My praise shall be of thee in the great congregation: I will pay my vows before them that fear him.

So, as we puttered down the road on a slightly-overcast but lovely day in Northern Virginia last weekend, I tearfully, joyfully sang along with this hymn. And I meant it.

*

Praise to the Lord, the Almighty, the King of creation!
O my soul, praise Him, for He is thy health and salvation!
All ye who hear, now to His temple draw near;
Praise Him in glad adoration.

Praise to the Lord
Who o’er all things so wondrously reigneth,
Shelters thee under His wings, yea, so gently sustaineth!
Hast thou not seen all that thou needest hath been
Granted in what He ordaineth?

Praise to the Lord
Who doth prosper thy work and defend thee;
Surely His goodness and mercy here daily attend thee.
Ponder anew what the Almighty can do
If with His love He befriend thee.

Praise to the Lord, O let all that is in me adore Him!
All that hath life and breath,
Come now with praises before Him.
Let the Amen sound from His people again,
Gladly forever adore Him.

Dear Michelle Obama,

Thanks for reading my blog.

I know there is much for you to consider in this transition period. I am going to stay out of the puppy and school debates — I think you should do whatever is best for your children, as long as it involves a public school or shelter/rescue dog.

But I would like to make one little recommendation for the Inaugural ball. Have you considered Kevan Hall, an L.A.-based designer, who also happens to be African American and a really cool guy?

Please wear this dress.

ballgown

You will look lovely.

love,

your friend and new neighbor in DC

ps I really like how your family wears coordinating colors for major events. It is very cute. I am looking forward to some adorable hats for the Inauguration.

pps That was really funny, the way you talked to President-elect Barack Obama about taking a walk or getting a dog (5 min. into vid).

ppps I’ll walk the dog whenever you like, if Malia is too busy.

Dear President Bush,

There is no economic crisis when it comes to White House dinners — it appears you will feast on some delicious food at the White House tonight! May I please join you and your G20 cronies? I promise I will be polite. Even to China.

Hopefully,

IHeartFennelFondue

ps How do you risotto quinoa? Is that even possible?

THE WHITE HOUSE

OFFICE OF THE FIRST LADY

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE November 14, 2008

MENU FOR THE DINNER IN HONOR OF

THE SUMMIT ON FINANCIAL MARKETS

AND THE WORLD ECONOMY

Fruitwood-smoked Quail with Quince Gastrique

Quinoa Risotto

Landmark Chardonnay “Damaris Reserve” 2006

Thyme-roasted Rack of Lamb

Tomato, Fennel and Eggplant Fondue

Chanterelle Jus

Shafer Cabernet “Hillside Select” 2003

Lolla Rosa, Red Oak and Endive

Cider Vinaigrette

Baked Vermont Brie with Walnut Crostini

Pear Torte

Huckleberry Sauce

Chandon Étoile Rosé

Barack Obama will be our new president.

As I write this, I can hear people gleefully honking horns outside. D.C. is in a joyful uproar. This is basically like a World Series victory here … except none of our sports teams get this kind of support (in a transient town, the away team always has a huge following). All the bars were showing election results this evening. Obama won over 94 percent of the vote in D.C. Many of those D.C.  Democrats spent a lot of time campaigning in Virginia, which also went blue.

I watched the returns in a civilized setting at a friend’s apartment in the Commonwealth. But then on our way home, I had to stop and observe the impromptu street parties taking place across the city. The U Street corridor was basically transformed into a big street fair. People walked down the middle of the street, giving high-fives, hugging and shouting “O-bam-A! O-bam-A!” They parked their cars in the middle of intersections and were playing music, wildly waving their arms and honking horns. Some people marched along hitting spoons on kitchen pots. People stood and held up Obama-Biden signs. At one intersection, a bunch of people played African drum beats while another crowd danced on the top of a bus stop. People blasted off fireworks. One guy was selling Obama victory T-shirts. Ethiopians were dancing like crazy at Dukem restaurant. A bunch of white kids gleefully played tambourines on the corner of 18th street.

I walked around for a few minutes and left around 1:30. The crowds seemed to be getting bigger, not smaller.

Some police officers looked on — I think a bit dumfounded. On the one hand, people aren’t supposed to be having an impromptu riot in the middle of 14th Street. But on the other hand, no one was really doing anything harmful. Everyone was happy. No one was destroying anything. I didn’t even see anyone with alcohol or open containers. The mood was very celebratory and positive. I only saw one negative McCain-Palin sign.

The intersection of 14th and U was the epicenter of violent race riots in the 1960’s after Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated. Tonight it was the center of positive interracial, multi-cultural celebration … and maybe even a little racial reconciliation. People exchanged high fives and hugs. As one white man and black man embraced, I heard the white guy say, “Things are cool with us, right? White people and black people.” His new friend replied, “yeah.” White guy:”With young people, it’s cool. That stuff is in the past.”

I don’t think this election or one celebratory embrace can erase centuries of racial strife. But I hope the high-five hugging spirit sticks around for a while.

(ps It’s 2:30 a.m. The kids are still honking their horns.)

It is election day in Washington, D.C. The mood is tense. We may not have much of a vote here in the district, but life revolves around this stuff for many people living here. So I would say we’re pretty into it.

There are already crews busily building the stage in front of the Capitol for the inauguration. We do not yet know who will stand on that stage come Jan. 20th. One thing we know is that it will not be a member of the Clinton or Bush families. For me, this alone is significant: those families have held the White House for two-thirds of my life.

I voted this afternoon, after going to a doctor’s appointment and working from home this morning. Thankfully, there was no line when I voted circa 1 pm.  I do think it is wonderful that so many people across this Great Land stood in line for hours to vote. But I was struggling to psych myself up for that kind of wait in Taxation Without Representationville (we care, and our vote counts … but it doesn’t really matter).

I took the clown bus to work and can attest that it is still mighty clowny, even in the middle of the day. A crowd of girls in the back of the bus sang songs. As we sat down toward the front of the bus, the man seated across from us started clapping in rhythm and told us to start a song. We did not take him up on his offer, tempting as it was. He then asked, “Do you really think Barack Obama will win today?” We replied: “yes.” Man: “Do you REALLY think he will win? Do you like him?” Ned: “If I were a betting man, I would bet on him. I think he’ll win.”  (note: this does not necessarily mean Ned voted for him. just sayin’)

Clapping man then went on to speak a lot of nonsense and tell us he’s really into twins. He sees them everywhere he goes. Like I said: clown bus.