WASHINGTON It was cold, but not nearly as frigid as four years ago.
It was crowded, but only half as packed as 2009.
It was historic, but not nearly as monumental as the first time around.
The way everyone else is writing these inauguration stories, you would think President Barack Obamas second swearing-in was something to sneeze at.
But for a first-time political reporter covering the festivities a one-man band running from the Capitol ceremony to the parade to the ball it was pretty great.
Worth several sneezes, in fact, courtesy of the winter weather.
When I first applied for The Durango Heralds internship in D.C., it never occurred to me that I might be covering the inauguration.
I never pictured starting this story sitting on a curb near Pennsylvania Avenue waiting for the parade to start, adding more detail while swapping my snow boots for high heels and finishing it while Brad Paisley croons in the background to the rest of the ball.
I started my day trekking on foot to the Capitol at 6 a.m., and I wasnt alone. Bundled up with three pairs of socks, long johns, four shirts and three pairs of gloves, Id vowed Sunday night to be prepared.
Thankfully, it was enough.
But no matter how thick my sweaters were, or how sturdy my boots, I could never have been prepared for sitting less than a football field away from the president of the United States as he took the oath of office for the second time.
Regardless of political affiliation, it was a powerful moment. On one side of me, three members of the Japanese media took notes and photos much like me. But on the other side, a father sat with his 9-year-old son wearing a monkey hat. The reporter on my left shivered and shook, while the kid kept running up to the barrier to get the best iPhone photo for his dad.
At the parade, I watched crowds sprint to see the Obamas as they stepped out of the limousine, scrambling for a good view four rows back.
And now, as I frantically type this article on my phone to make deadline, Jennifer Hudson is serenading the president and first lady, the crowd singing along and snapping photos and videos. Their clapping and cheering is thunderous, nearly echoing in this massive convention center. A little red-headed boy in a suit has been lifted onto someones shoulders, camera flashes bouncing off him.
And then the Obamas leave the stage. As everyone else moves around me to grab drinks or pretzels, Im still standing here clutching my notebook and press pass and praying I can find enough of a cellular signal to send this to my editors.
I didnt write a straight news story about how Chief Justice John Roberts didnt bungle his lines this time, or why the first lady chose a sleeveless dress.
I wrote this reporters notebook to try to show you what a wide-eyed cub reporter barely a week into her first political reporting internship sees from below the steps of the Capitol, sitting on the curb off the parade route and balancing precariously in high heels at the ball.
I saw a lot. Probably more than Ill ever see again for the rest of my life.
And Im OK with that.
While many politicians savor their first victories by scheming for a second, Im going to call this day a success.
And historic, even if its just for me.
Stefanie Dazio is a student at American University in Washington, D.C., and an intern for The Durango Herald. Email firstname.lastname@example.org.