Tuesday, September 28, 2010


Hard to believe, but I am that. A virgin. Or so I was told last week and I’ll admit that it was doubly true today.

I had gone in to see my doc last week about a progressively dysfunctional shoulder. Perhaps you have such a shoulder? Not yet frozen but heading there? Her reaction  – start therapy! Immediately! Then she asks -- have you ever done PT? No... I say, ashamed. A right of passage into adulthood that has passed me by. Ah! A PT virgin! -- my doc proclaims.

Tuesdays are heavy teaching days for me – three classes, back to back, and even though I can no longer erase much of the blackboard with my right arm (yes, when it goes, it goes!) I postpone the visit with the PT (whom I would prefer to think of as a Personal Trainer – it sounds so much more athletic and that's not really a long shot, as he works out of the Sports Clinic) until late in the day.

Which is why I bike frantically (not frantically enough to put away the camera) to campus in the morning...


Then bike frantically back to the west side for my session with the PT... pull arm this way, stretch it that way, no, keep it at an angle...

...and then it’s time for the decision: bike back to campus?

Obama is to deliver a speech at the UW late today. Should I bike all the way down, even as chances of getting anywhere near the podium now, close to five, are so small, especially since the line to gain entry to Library Mall (place of the event)  has been snaking and waiting for miles, since three in the afternoon?


I think back and try to recall if I have ever witnessed the live presence of a president in my life. No, I have not. (A presidential sighting virgin!) I do vaguely recall handing flowers to Nikita Kruschev as he stepped off the plane on a visit to New York in the 60s, but that was entirely spurred by my parents’ preoccupation with a certain brand of politics then, and of course, he was not really a president, let alone this country's president.

And so I turn back and bike furiously back to campus. It’s now nearly five and I think I don’t have a chance of making it inside the privileged space where only about 15,000 will congregate (the spillover crowd will go to Bascom Hill where you can't see beans).

And lo, the line has shortened and I just make it inside.

And although the viewing options are terrible, I have enough Polish squeeze in me to get a spot where I can actually witness the sea of humankind before me...



...and more importantly, I can see this...


(and so can the men with weapons, from the roof of our library...)


Ahhh, to listen to the vibe of a different world than the one you read about in the everyday!


My viewing spot is not especially amidst students (even though students dominate the event I am told). I have a mother and child to one side, a grandma and daughter, a single old guy, and because we are a generous bunch, we allow a running mix of people from down there to join us up at the platform for a minute or two, just to see the guy. We extend our arms and we pull ‘em up and then they dutifully go down again and the next one comes up. To see the president.


Dusk sets in. The event draws to an end and we all disperse.  I bike home hurriedly, out of habit. It's been such a long day.


I am part of a mass exodus from a campus that has for the first time in my lifetime hosted an American president. Big deal, right?

Well, actually, it was kind of a big deal.