Monday, March 28, 2005

Cold, Wet, Hungry and Bleeding: My day at the White House

This morning started early for me at 8:00 A.M Eastern, when I arrived at the Northwest gate of the White House in my nice suit to cover the 2005 Easter Egg Roll on the South Lawn, aka Bush's Back Yard.

I'd known I was going since last friday, but I only told a few people because I knew there was a strong chance it'd be cancelled outright and didn't want to crow about then only to get the hatchet.

Security was no problem, they'd had my name down on their list, they handed me a pass, and I was let in without an escort. I walked in the general direction of the door they pointed to when I asked about the press room, and admired the majesty of the building as I walked in the rain.

I must admit I felt a bit giddy as I approached, it is the White House after all. But a reporter must remain calm, clear, collected, and above all, apathetic when necessary. So I just chilled out in the press room, which looks nothin like the one in "The West Wing," much more cluttered and the chairs are reminiscent of the ones in my old High School's auditorium.

I listened to the conversations and gathered that we were to wait in the briefing room until it was our time, when we would be unleashed upon the crowd of parents and children like the savage horde we reporters are. I chilled, made a little bit of small talk, and made two telephone calls. One to my home, where I awoke my my brother. I said hello, asked how he was, but didn't tell him where I was. I then called my mom at work and did the same.

If only they knew they'd gotten telephone calls from the White House today.

We waited, and soon enough, they let us out of the cramped room and out into the... rain. Oh yeah, I forgot to mention that it was raining cats, dogs, and ferrets outside. That's right, ferrets.

It was at this moment I realized I shouldn't have dressed so nicely today. I would be reminded of this several times before the day was through.

They had us stand near the White House for a little while, then they opened a gate that reporters started pouring into, and never being one to miss out on a media frenzy, I lumbered after.

Only it was just for PJ's (Photojournalists, aka photogs, aka dudes with cameras) and me being a writer, I was supposed to wait a bit. And I did, but just for a little bit. I soon spotted an opening and was home free. I walked about and interviews kids and parents alike, and it was good until I looked down and realized just how wet my nice pants were with mud. Hello dry cleaning.

I toughed it out, even when my umbrella developed a leak over my head and when my believed-to-be-trustworthy shoes decided to fill up with water without any provocation.

The rain poured and poured, as you can tell by the picture. They called it all off at 10:00 or so, and I took off once I had enough for my story.

I got back to the bureau, and looked at my hand and realized that I had cut it when I closed my umbrella to reenter the White House. That's right, I bled in the White House.

I handed the camera off, got a band-aid, and sat down to dry.

The pictures are nice, expect more to come in future posts.

I wrote a few captions, and bam, it was time to go. Today was our tour of the State Department, so I re-donned my coat, which was still dripping wet, and was on my way with my fellow interns. The state department was nice, but nothing to write home about, really. What it does mean, however is that I have now visited all five major beats in Washington: The Pentagon, the White House, the Capitol, the Supreme Court, and the State Department.

With the story I'm doing tomorrow, I will have covered three of them.

I wrote my story when we got back, it's a nice one, and I'll post it on here sometime tomorrow.

And I just took my off shoes, which have been wet and on my feet all day, and I swear I hear rodents screaming under my roommate's bed from the stench.

Oh wait, that is my roommate.

Just kidding.


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