Saturday, January 14, 2017

Yes, We Did

Tonight, I'm watching Dateline's special with Lester Holt interviewing our 44th President, Barack Obama, and I'm melancholy.  I do wish I was full of hope for the next in line, but I'm not.  Sorry.  I plan on fighting all of the things that I want to fight for, but at this point, I'm already freaking tired of how much I'm going to need to fight.  

But let's focus now on President O.  I remember November 2004 when he was campaigning for the Democratic nomination, how, even at the voting booth, I struggled with my decision, Barack or Hillary?  I honestly am not sure who I voted for that day, because I liked both.  So when Obama won the Presidency, I was thrilled for our nation. I planned to go to Washington, D.C. just to be there, soaking it all in.   But I didn't care that the tears were freezing on my face.  I was proud; proud to be in a country where finally, finally race was not an obstacle in achieving the highest office.  I was elated.  I was talking about this trip to one of my co-workers today, which is probably what is also inspiring me to write tonight.

If you'd like to see my trip reports from that week, I'll make it easy for you and include them here.

Day 1: January 16, 2009 - Travel to Maryland

Day 2: January 17, 2009 -- James meets Bananaman

Day 3: January 18, 2009 -- The Rock Star Appears

Day 4: January 19, 2009 -- Sherry's Birthday in DC

Day 5: January 20, 2009 -- Inauguration Day

Day 6: January 21, 2009 -- Sherry almost dies

Day 7: January 22, 2009 -- Touring the Capitol Area

Day 8: January 23, 2009 -- Travel Home

Coming back to California after that trip, I was happy to share souvenirs with my friends and tell my stories.  Then I went behind the Orange Curtain and watched the Oscars with some friends.  I had not told them where I'd been, and I'm glad I didn't because one of my friends there voiced her negative opinion about President O when Sean Penn gave his acceptance speech for winning Best Actor for his portrayal of Harvey Milk.  It wasn't the opinion that bothered me; it was the way she said it.  

I am not a debater.  When I believe in something politically, I'm not eloquent in voicing my opinion, nor am I skilled at arguing my point against others'.  I quietly left at the end of the show and now avoid seeing certain people.  It's difficult because I'm so passionate about my beliefs on the inside that I feel like I'm just going to blurt something out and that it won't exactly sound civil or polite.  I guess I'm afraid I'll sound like the person at that party.  

So let me blurt out (or whatever the writing equivalent is) some of the accomplishments this President has made through his decisions, by Supreme Court or Executive Decision or whatever.

  • Obamacare.  It's not perfect, but many people have been medically treated that could not obtain treatment before the Affordable Care Act.
  • Marriage Equality.  I know lots of happy couples.  Many of them are happier because they were finally allowed to get married in their states.
  • Got Bin Laden, immediately after telling jokes with impeccable timing at the White House Correspondents' Dinner.
  • Ended the embargo on Cuba.  Someone I knew long ago didn't like President Kennedy because of the Bay of Pigs.  I wonder what she thinks of Obama.
  • Rebooted the auto industry.  That was crazy-surprising to me. Wow, what a turn around!
  • Lowest rate of unemployment since 1948.
No, he wasn't perfect. There's that whole Guantanamo situation, and some other issues that he tried to pass (stricter gun control) that couldn't get done.  How could they get done with such obstruction in Congress?  I know, lots of Presidents have that excuse.  But not lots of Presidents had to deal with social media and the absence/decrease of actual investigative journalism and...uh oh...I'm about to blurt.

I've read two of Obama's books.  I know his story.  I will never know what it's like to be black.  I only know what it's like to be me.  I know my story.  It's nothing like his.  Yet I feel like he is someone I aspire to be: a leader who, with so much hatred and vitriol being thrown his way so publicly in the last eight years, handled it all (at least publicly) with grace.  He never took the bait to become the stereotypical "Angry Black Man".  He let Key and Peele take care of that for him.  If you haven't seen the Obama Anger Translator sketches already, I highly recommend them.

He relied on the help of his staff, folks that had been with him through thick and thin, from the very beginning, knocking on doors, getting things signed, cold calling people, a true community of supporters.  I want to be the kind of leader that inspires my folks to succeed.  He inspires folks to pick up a clipboard, get signatures, and run for office themselves.  I just want to inspire people to work hard, play harder, and respect everyone along the way.

One of my favorite things about Obama is the friendship he has with Vice President Biden.  I loved all of the memes on FB about Biden joking to Obama about all the pranks he was going to play on the President Elect.  They brightened my day. But aside from the funny, I enjoyed the genuine smiles on their faces.  They're buds.  I love that.

That White House Correspondents' Dinner?  Every year, hilarious, even with the groan-worthy Dad jokes. He's funny.  He can sing some smooth Al Green.  He loves dogs.  Hi, Bo and Sunny!  He loves basketball.  He respects science and research.  He knows the Constitution. He headed the Harvard Law Review.  He is a practicing Christian.  He is the epitome of cool.

I think that what I love most of all about this man, though, is how much he loves his wife.  When he thanked Michelle during his farewell speech, I cried.  Then he cried and I started bawling.  Oh my goodness.  Their obvious affection for each other is beautiful.  It's what I dream of having with someone someday. It's mutually supportive, humorous, and obviously a true partnership.  The way they are raising their young girls is even more admirable, and I look forward to what those kids will bring as our leaders of tomorrow.  Michelle has made the country more aware of nutrition, she's got those amazing arm muscles, she's beautiful and regular-figured (except maybe those biceps), is witty and just REAL.  I'm going to miss seeing this couple as they ride off into the sunset and become "common" citizens again.

The impact of this presidency on this nation's allover history remains to be seen.  But in the history of my life, it has been an amazing one to watch.

Thank you, President Obama. Thank you for your inspiring words, your elegance, your faith, your hope, your family, your smile, your eloquence, your patriotism, your swagger, your ideals.  I'm glad I was here to see it all happen.

Obama out.

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Go, Roses!

It's Rose Parade Day!  

When Bro and I found out that Santa Clara Vanguard would be in the parade as a kickoff to their 50th Anniversary celebration, we were excited.  Especially because our alma mater's band, the Arcadia High School Apache Marching Band would be there, too!  We decided that it would be a great reason for his wife, V, and their two kids to experience their first Rose Parade in person.

In this post, I'll be including photos from this year's very rainy Bandfest on December 30 and 31, 2016.  We attended Bandfest shows I and III.  We wanted Bandfest shirts because they would include the names of both the bands we were there to see, but they had last year's bands listed.  OOPS. We were told to get them from the company's website, but they weren't shown there as of last night.  I hope the contact person answers me soon.

Additional pictures can be found on my Snapchat story, Username PellaPusher.

We took the Gold Line from my regular Metro station at Arcadia.  The line was long because people were buying tap cards and fare.  Lucky for us, I had gone the night before to buy TAP cards and fare for our group, so we bypassed the line and got onto the platform right away.  YAY!  I actually thought of doing something ahead of time, and it worked.  Way to start the day off right, Sher!

We got off the train at Lake Station and Bro led us through the crowds to a spot on Colorado Blvd.  We sat and waited for about an hour before the Sound Car arrived. While we were waiting a gentleman was informing his peeps (and the rest of us) about certain aspects of the parade, complete with visual aids (pics of the parade route and the Valley Hunt Club).  Thank you, kind sir!

At a few seconds after 8:00 a.m., the B2 Spirit flew overhead and we knew that the parade was underway!

Westlake High School had a beautiful flower-themed field show, and I loved the color guard's dresses.  During the parade they had big flowers as hats, but I wasn't able to get a picture of them.  As is required, I think, they played "Yellow Rose of Texas" during their pass and review.

On December 31, the weather at Bandfest was much wetter than on the 30th.  This caused a problem for the band from Lawrence Township because they relied heavily on electronics in their show.  So they had lots of tarp and pullups to form canopies over the sound equipment.  Bro asked if DCI's Cadets' director was in charge of their band because they pIaced their own hashtags on the field and took forever to set up.  Neither one of us was able to hear any of the amplified portions, so for us, they did all that in vain.  They sounded great on the street, though.

I was confused when I saw the banner for Buhos Marching Band.  The people behind them were not wearing the same uniforms than the ones we saw at Bandfest.  Instead of sombreros, they wore helmets.  Bro pointed out the sousaphones to prove that they were the same band, because he knew how much I liked the rose design placement on them.  Their Bandfest show was fun to watch, and many people in the audience knew the songs.  I was familiar with most of the songs, but all I could contribute was "MEXICO!!"  TofR president Brad Ratliffe had played with all of the bands when he went to their hometowns to announce their inclusion in the parade.  He is now my favorite TofR president!  He played "La Bamba" during Bandfest with Buhos.

We saw Niceville High School at Bandfest in the rain. I felt sorry for the baton twirlers because they didn't get to wear pants in that weather.  Maybe they don't have day uniform pants because they're from Florida, I don't know.

I really liked Broken Arrow's logo on their flags.  The arrow is Broken and it forms an "A" when intertwined with the B!  This band played at Bandfest II so we didn't see their field show.  I was interested in it, though, because the back of the collars on the color guard looked like they belonged to vampires.

The Queen's float was Miss O's favorite.  Who can blame her? There's a crown on it and royalty waves at you!  Thanks for turning around, Princess Maya!  It's as if she knew her fellow Apaches were there.

One of my perennial favorites is the Herald Trumpeters that precede the Rose Court.  It's nice to hear them do fanfares at Bandfest because you really only hear one or two during the parade as they go by you.

Penn State's baton twirlers got to wear pants during their very rainy show at Bandfest.  I liked their music selections and liked their band more than the other college band there that day.  We didn't get to see their uniforms until parade day.  Look how happy they are to be dry!  Or maybe they're just happy that they all have their instruments, because a bunch of them were just pretending to hold instruments at Bandfest.

Bro laughed when I told him that I didn't like the current uniforms for the Pasadena Honor Band's banner carriers.  I did like the roses on their flags, because the poles looked like a rose stem without the thorns.  I also liked that they danced around during the field show.  Dancing Roses!  They played a special arrangement of Star Wars music for which they obtained special permission to play.  They played at every Bandfest show, so we saw them twice.  During Bandfest III, I lamented that we didn't bring our lightsaber umbrellas because it would have been fun to light them up during that part of the show.  

Bro and I wanted to walk with Arcadia for a bit, so we saw USC and the Salvation Army Band very briefly.  USC marched in their day clothes under ponchos during Bandfest, and the announcer quipped that he thought they were from a place of higher learning, but they had shorts on under their ponchos.  

Then it was time for me to whoop it up for my alma mater.  Bro and I said hi to the band directors because we're geeky like that.  Bro was happy that he got to hear them play this year's march, "Purple Carnival" again.  We walked with them to the place where we had left V and the kids.  Awesome job, Arcadia!  #pache

Hi, Seth!

Hi, Kevin!

You knew I would post more than one picture of them, right?  It's my schooooool!  Arcadia was the last band to perform at Bandfest, after providing the warmup at both Bandfest II and Bandfest III.  It rained on them for their whole performance of "Romeo and Juliet".  So why didn't they have their parasols? That was such a lovely part of that show and they could have helped during the rain.  Maybe they were paper parasols?  They did a great job despite the rain, and two of them got to take pictures with the two Rose Court princesses from AHS.  

My favorite float, and I think Bro's, was this one from The UPS Store.  I love that the giraffe needs more than one bow tie because his neck is so long.

Mr. B's favorite float was Lucy's Pet's float.  Dogs!  Dogs surfing!

The Gifu Shogyo Green Band was certainly one of the most entertaining bands, playing "Thriller" and dancing during the parade.  They also performed "Dancing Queen", complete with a few color guard members wearing ABBA style outfits. President Brad joined in on the fun of that and it was rad.  Yeah, that's 80's speak for all you young'uns out there.

We did not get to see Foothill High School's band during Bandfest, but here they are!

Ooltewah HS marching band's field show was about toys.  I liked the wind-up keys on the back of the uniforms, as well as the paper airplane and crayon props used by the color guard.  Bro thought the music was too easy, but I thought it fit the theme well because they were nursery rhymes.

The Red Raider Marching Band from Pulaski High School included a polka in their field show at Bandfest because their director is some kind of polka champion.  Afterward, President Brad did a cool bit with the trombone section.

Veronica's favorite float was this one from the City of Sierra Madre.  I liked that they played the music from Pixar's "Ratatouille" from the float's speaker system.

Los Angeles Unified School District's Honor Band brought high energy to Bandfest and the parade route. I don't know what they were yelling, but they did yell the same thing a lot.  They reminded me of the SEC bands featured in the movie "Drumline".

I wonder if the California representative of the Bands of America Honor Band is from So Cal, or if they had to make a trek to get here.  

The US Air Force "Total Force" band was one of the bands at Bandfest that played in a LOT of rain.  We were honored to have them there, though, and President Brad stood in the rain, no hat, no umbrella, no poncho, just his TofR windbreaker to show his respect for our armed forces.  LIKE A BOSS!!!  Have I told you that I love President Brad?

I really liked the black and white flags that Grove City HS Marching Band used in their field show "Opposing Forces" at Bandfest.  I liked their show music, which had elements of "West Side Story" and Prokofiev's "Romeo and Juliet".  

Then we got ready to leave as we waited for the other reason we were there: VANGUARD.  After they approached our area, we followed them for a few blocks until we got to Allen St, where there was a Metro station about 4 blocks away.  We cheered for Brandon and David even though we couldn't necessarily see them.  They were AWESOME.  At one point, the parade stopped because a float broke down, so they played their 1999 "Canyon" music for the crowd.  I almost cried, I was so happy.  They also played that during Bandfest, along with 2014 "Scheherazade" and "Send in the Clowns". Way to start off the 50th Anniversary, SCV!  Thank you to the Tournament of Roses Association for recognizing this corps by having their color guard in the opening festivities on the street, the corps proper during the opening segment, their corps during the flag ceremony on the lawn (which I briefly saw during KTLA's pre-parade coverage), and for honoring them by making them the last marching unit in the parade!  President Brad is a drum corps fan.  Can we make him President forever?  

Pre Show Crowd Warm-up for Bandfest I

Maybe that's Brandon

That's David 2nd from the left in the top row

Beautiful flags used in the opening ceremony

We walked to the Allen Gold Line station and got home without much hassle, so I would definitely take the Metro again for the next Rose Parade I attend.  

I should add for posterity that Miss O's tooth fell out during the parade. Just because she's growing up, and able to deal with no bathroom until we quickly made it back to my house.


Bro's dream has come true and he's seen his favorite marching band and his favorite drum corps in the same Rose Parade.  Yay!  

Happy New Year, everyone!  May your 2017 be blessed with many happy memories like the ones we made today.

Sunday, January 1, 2017

PusherPix 12/31/16

Saturday, December 31, 2016

Diehards Bro and Ate repping Arcadia Apache Marching Band at Bandfest III.  

I think this is the perfect end to PusherPix 2016, don't you?  

PusherPix 12/30/16

Friday, January 30, 2016

Santa Clara Vanguard bass drums at Bandfest I.

Friday, December 30, 2016

PusherPix 12/29/16

Thursday, December 29, 2016

Menorah at Arcadia Station

Happy Hanukkah!

Thursday, December 29, 2016

PusherPix 12/28/16

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Happy Birthday, Rudy!

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

PusherPix 12/26/16

Tuesday, December 26, 2016

Eskimo Kisses with Pluto

PusherPix 12/27/16

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

RIP, Carrie Fisher.   Your role as our Rebel Princess made me admire you.  Your sardonic wit made me love you.  Your crusade against mental illness made me respect you. Thank you for the bravery, the laughter, and the hope.

I'll miss you, Leia.

Monday, December 26, 2016

PusherPix 12/25/16

Sunday, December 25, 2016

Harrah's staff had a gingerbread house contest. I would have voted for this one if they hadn't run out of ballots. 

PusherPix 12/24/16

Saturday, December 24, 2016

I love this hand crafted ornament by Genevieve Santos, one of the artists I met at Designer Con! 

Merry Christmas to me!