Published January 22, 2009
It took me all of 45 minutes to get ready for the ball. After having 2 days of glamming up practice (something I haven't had to do in over 2 years), I regained my art of getting ready quickly. Seriously, when all one has to do is zip up a gown and pin up your hair, it doesn't take long. I don't know how I made it through the night because my feet were in agony after walking 6 miles from the Mayflower Hotel to the Capitol. I completely regret not bringing a pair of tennis shoes with me. In all honesty, my ball gown was so long I could have pulled off a Whoopi Goldberg fashion moment and worn sneakers under it.
Getting to the Washington Convention Center (WCC) was just as challenging as getting to the Capitol earlier in the day. D.C. had truly become a police state by this time. The WCC was the site of so many balls that protective barriers and street closures were a block or more around the periphery. I had to walk 2 blocks to the building just to be told by a police officer to walk another 4 blocks in another direction and then to learn that I was still not in the right place. I pleaded to just be let in because my feet were frozen by this time and my hair was just being blown all over the place. I finally got to the security detail that scanned me more thoroughly than any airport and inside to warmth. However, once inside, I was told the Midwest States Ball was at the other end of the building (this building is a good 4 blocks long). Talk about aggravation! I attended President Clinton's inaugural ball in 1993 at the Air & Space Museum and it was much better organized and easier to get into (not to mention a fantastic ambiance with Sen. John Glenn's space capsule there).
After finally getting the the ball's location, I learn that there is only one coat check and it was at the entrance I just walked from! Needless to say, I found friends who were sitting who watched my coat.
The WCC is just huge and the ballrooms are really just convention halls. The Presidential Inaugural Committee did their best to make the room cozy but it was just way too large. The ball I attended was down a level on an escalator. There were huge swaths of fabric and banners with the presidential seal hanging from the ceiling. A nice touch were the stations where one could take their photo in front of the presidential seal and banners. I would show you my photos but that would mean making the entire city of Youngstown my friends on Facebook. ;) The food was fine for the amount of people they were serving - crudites, tortellini, ziti and chicken roulade. Drinks were on the pricey side (unless you've lived in NYC), wine was $9, beer $6, champagne $12.
The entertainment was partially good. The Fabulous Motown Review wasn't so fabulous. There was a better band at Ohio's Presidential Gala. But, Sheryl Crow rocked the house. I wasn't a big fan and didn't mind listening to her music on the radio. After hearing her perform in person, I'm converted. She did a great job. VP Biden and his wife appeared around 11:45 p.m. and I was too exhausted to wait for President Obama and the first lady after hearing from a couple Secret Service people that it would be another hour before they arrived.
I high tailed it back to the hotel after spending a few hours at the ball, managing to find a cab 4 blocks away. At the hotel, the Humanitarian Ball was letting out and the bar was full of gowned and tuxed people equally drained from a crazily exhilirating day.
Driving back to Ytown from D.C. was impossible without caffeine jet fuel in me. Knowing that I would see my daughter at the end of the 5 hour drive pushed me onward. I stopped at the Hagerstown Prime Outlets in Maryland on the way home to buy some children's clothes on clearance. It was worth the bargain but energy draining. I was so happy to plop into bed with my daughter at 9 p.m. last night. I love the city's excitement but love the feel of my daughter's cheek against my lips even more.