Tuesday, January 24, 2017

249,000 of My New Best Friends...

THE hat...
I marched. Chicago. 250,000 strong. 

It was amazing. Pictures. I took some pictures but like an idiot, I didn't bring the "big camera." My phone died early. But here's what I have... 

On a packed train, a woman was giving out fleece "kat hats" - and no, I will not use that word. So my new friend Dawn and I got one. Our friend Sue had the foresight to crochet her own. I wasn't really sure I was going to wear one, but I thought, "What the heck..."

The train was packed. Men, women of all ages, and even kids and babies. 

So many signs. All kinds. Stuff I would be embarrassed for my mom to see (and frankly, she'd have WRITTEN some of those...), but others witty. Pithy, pointed. happy, sad, pointed. 

The crowds kept coming. And coming, and coming. The initial estimate of 75,000 blossomed and flowered. We took over Grant Park. We stood on every inch. Every. Inch. of the walk route. 

Four news choppers and a drone overhead. Sun. We started with a real pea-soup fog, and I thought, "Wow, this is going to stink - we won't be able to see 3 feet in front of us." 

We found a spot along the fence. We weren't sure what to expect, but the crowd was ... peaceful. Joyful. Purposeful. 

Everyone felt a sense of "we're here for a reason," even though those reasons were as varied as the people who were there. 

My friend Dawn walks with a cane. The people around us didn't crowd her, they even said, "Watch for the bump here," or "There's a curb, do you need a hand?" Everyone was kind. 

I can say that "I sang with the cast of Hamilton" because two of the cast members came out to speak, and we sang, "Let it Be." My friends looked at me and said, "Wow - you CAN sing!" 

As you click on the pictures, you'll be able to see some of the signs. People gradually started opening up their "puffy coats" - hey, it's Chicago. We NEVER expect decent weather in January. Speaking of which, pick out the climate change sign! One of my favorites. I almost didn't grab my sunglasses, but boy, was I glad I did!

The crowd was easily 30 - 40% men. Again - of all ages. Many carrying signs and proudly proclaiming their own feminist creds. 

And yes, men can be feminists. Like the t-shirt says: "Feminism is the radical notion that women are people." My boys would agree with that - and state it loudly whenever they can. 

Lots of signs for women's rights. Lots for Planned Parenthood. Lots for LGBTQ rights. As I said - this march was for each of us. Each of us was there for a different reason. And we supported each of us for ourselves and our reasons. 

What I mean is that if you were there marching for women's rights, and I'm there marching for Planned Parenthood, we chatted. We thought about ways to get both of our causes advanced. We brainstormed. We actually socialized!

Speaking of which - we apparently overloaded the grid! We all lost the cell signal for a couple of hours. That's ok. 

There were plenty of people to talk to!

A gay couple was there with their daughters. Dad #1 had a sign that said, "Women's Rights are Human Rights," and I thought, "Jeeze dude - that's awesome, considering that you just got the right to marry your husband!" A woman was handing out hot-pink hats, and one of the little girls asked for one. She was adorable. 

Some of us protested before. Some of us were old hands at this. Some were first-timers. And we all came together for the day. 

My selfie skills stink!
When the organizers announced the shift from "march" to "rally," it was cool. Nobody moaned. Nobody complained. The crowd started to disperse, but as well, people were still coming in - you can see the photos where people ringed the park. 

Oh, and we stayed off the grass. We were told to stay off the grass. So we did. 

As we drifted off, we actually "inadvertently" marched. We had to get back to our train, right? So we figured we'd take over the city as well. 

Which we did. The crowd swelled and moved, and even among all that humanity, my friend found her daughter-in-law and sister. They joined us on our way back. We all laughed and pointed out signs to each other. Pictures were taken. Those who had batteries were able to text by then, so we were able to get updates. 

We were so jazzed to see the numbers! For a while there, the Chicago march was the largest one next to Washington DC. Drat LA -- they beat us, but ours was still the best!

Even the police - super helpful and cheerful. I know there's been a lot of bad press for the Chicago PD, but they were quite pleasant. 

There were no arrests. There were no scuffles. Nationwide, according to various sources, there were only four arrests. Nationwide. There. Were. Only. Four. Arrests. 

Think about that. Four. 

A couple million people marched. There were only four arrests. 

As we marched back toward the train station, a group of kids were on the top of the subway shelter with a bullhorn. "This is what democracy looks like!" was the chant. 

This is "our" fence
A few of us oldsters started singing the Helen Reddy power anthem, "I am Woman, Hear Me Roar." I forgot some of the words, but hey - the chorus was a good one!

We headed toward the Federal Plaza. At one point, marchers branched out toward the river, to continue the rally down toward the NBC plaza. We chose to go on toward the train station. We stopped at the Chicago Board of Trade plaza for a few moments. 

By the way, you can't sit on the statues. Or lean on them. Or sit on the fountain. And there are no benches. Dawn has two torn meniscii in her one knee and she needed a rest.

Did you know that the stop-and-start walking is more tiring? It is. So she tried to sit or lean on the statues or the fountain. A very nice woman with a walkie-talkie suggested she move toward the fire hydrant. 

One should not sit on a fire hydrant. It's not comfy. But it helped her rest for a moment. We cut through the CBOT plaza and rearranged our return plans to take a different train home. To get to our original train would've meant another mile or so, and Dawn had had enough. 

But before that, as we were just passing the Federal Plaza, a man put his hands around his mouth and chanted, "Their bodies, their choice!"

The women around him responded, "Our bodies, our choice!" 

Then 3 other men joined him. We responded. 
My favorite...

Three more men joined him. We responded. 

It grew and grew till about 20 men were chanting and the women were responding. 

I get goose bumps. 

It was a great day, in spite of the fact that I was hungry and there was nothing I could eat with my braces (man, do my teeth hurt!). I know - First World problem, right? But either way, it was a great day. 

To those who say, "it was anti-trump," I say No. It wasn't. Entirely. The table was large and there were chairs enough for all. Yes, there were some anti-trump signs. There were signs about love and peace. There were signs about women's rights. There were cat signs aplenty. 

It wasn't a one-issue march. And if you reduce it to that, then I'm sorry for you because you've missed the point. 

This was a few million people coming together to join forces. Not to divide. We've had enough division. We've just proved that diverse interests can come together and share space without anyone's brain exploding. 

I came home pleasantly tired and buzzed. I mean, I couldn't sleep the night after the march. 

We made history. We were part of it. We did it. 

Now... keep the momentum going. Do something. 

I have plans. Do you?


So - I have to start baby knitting again... (sigh). I'm not saying I don't want to... But I was enjoying my break from baby stuff, and working on a really nice pair of socks. More pics will follow in the next entry, because I'm still working through all the March pictures. 

So I do have to finish the Shape-It, and I'm going to pick out some yarn for a new hat-sweater-booties set. The baby is due in July. 

I'm now the only sibling with no grandkids and none on the horizon. No worries. I'm fine with that. 

I have NO time to knit this!! Yikes. Better get moving!

Till next time then!

Scroll down for the rest of the pictures. 

Look at the people on the other side of the fence





They just kept coming... 






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