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If at First you Don’t Succeed, Try Try and Continue Not to Succeed

August 27, 2008

Though those avid readers of my desperate attempts to get credentials know that I like to recall my days in chronological order, I decided to start this post with words of wisdom Congressman Tim Ryan.

When asked if he ever had a day when he felt like what he does isn’t worth it, his answer was simple and unexpected: “Get some sleep. Pushing yourself until you get burnt out makes you unable to enjoy the experience.”

Mind you when I heard this I had not slept for two days, had not eaten yet, and had a headache from the altitude.  So, when I heard a successful young congressman say that the secret to his success was sleep, it did not make me feel so great about the position I was in.  Instead of disregarding it as a benign comment or dwelling over the possibility of burning out and trying to succeed in business without really trying, I tapped into a JSA-encouraged principle and took action.

In the spirit of the congressman from the DNC youth panel, I decided to write today’s entry before we actually arrive back at the hotel and my desire to hibernate under my sheets for more than a few hours kicks in.  Also, considering it is only 10:30 on the East Coast, hopefully my mind will be more alert and my isms will actually make sense.  Here’s hopin’.

But let’s go back to the beginning.  Thankfully the call time for this morning was the more reasonable hour of seven o’clock.  After grabbing some coffee, we hopped on the bus and headed over to the Cable Center for this morning’s feature famous speakers.  Today’s main attraction was The Honorable George McGovern. For those of you who were not alive during the Vietnam War era, Mr. McGovern ran for president in the 1972 as the Democratic nominee for president and was basically bitch slapped by the voters.  And even though Mr. McGovern was the most anticipated of our variety show of speakers, bars set high are usually only meant to be topped by olympic gymnasts.  Surprisingly, the speaker preceding the Honorable delegate from South Dakota was Andrea Stewart-Cousins, an African-American New York state senator who was commanding, was up-front about her issues, and was not afraid to tell everyone that as a kid from the Upper East Side she had “money, money, money”.

After the speakers, we jetted off to the Convention Center for the DNC youth council panel discussion.  Now, for those readers who are less familiar with JSA, the motto of the organization is “be flexible”  a.k.a. “be ready for things to fall through”.  So, in true JSA style, we missed the first half of the panel and only made it for the discussion with young representatives about how they got elected.

One thing they said that I hadn’t heard the day before in my speaker’s program?  It’s fun to run against old people. I couldn’t make this stuff up if I tried.  Besides, since I wasn’t able to get this post done before I got back to the hotel and I am sitting on my bed with two sleeping roommates, I don’t have time to make stuff up!

The other main afternoon activity besides roaming 16th street scouting out buttons and potential t-shirts was going to the taping of Hardball with Chris Mathews. The taping was held outside with little shade from the hot Denver sun. Now even though seeing Chris Mathews was exciting, what captivated my attention more was the mood of protesters who filled in the back rows of the crowded audience.

I don’t know if protesters is the right word to describe these, well, extremists, who were firm indulgers in the 9/11 conspiracy theories. They came armed with signs and bullhorns and a large arsenal of chants: literal ones like “9/11 was an inside job,” mean-spirited ones like “Do your job” and the Obama-themed one “We are the change.”  My friends and I were standing almost right in between the protesters and the police officers, watching this act of civil disobedience from afar as spectators.

I think that was the closest I will get to being a part of a riot while I’m here, though you never know: if someone has extra credentials to give away, I would brawl to the death.

Sorry.   I like to work that credential part in whenever I can just to remind people reading this that I am still up a creek without a credential. The credential story of the day was when someone in the program went up to some guy eating in a restaurant and asked for credentials, and out of his bag comes 15+ credentials. I guess luck really be a lady tonight, though sadly that lady is not me!  I must have crappy karma or maybe there is a sticky note on my back that says “will bite when approached with credentials”.

Sadly, I had to leave Hardball early because, when I looked in my bag to grab money for a button (I now have 9 by the way, though my Hebrew one is still by far my favorite), I realized I didn’t have my wallet.

Pause for gasp.

I called the place were we had lunch and thank goodness they found it! So then I walked more than six long blocks in the heat to get to my wallet.  If you were wondering what I did on the walk up, I conducted a little back-and-forth in my head: “I need to go and sit and get something to drink” to “you have no money to buy anything to drink.”  As soon as I reached that pivotal Corner Bakery Café (free plug!) I bought myself a delectable frozen pomegranate smoothie.

Tonight we had a private JSA watch party at the cable center which meant we got to see Hillary Clinton’s head across a total of 16 screens, so if you thought that orange suit was bad on one tv, imagine that fluorescent magnification by 16!  Other than the suit, though, I think Hillary did exactly was she was supposed to: she started with a strong statement in favor of Obama, talked about her issues, thanked her fans, established unity with Obama through a shared disagreement of bad Republican views, and ended telling everyone to vote for Obama.

Can anyone guess what the people behind me on the bus ride home were fiercely debating? The orange prison-inspired suit.  Was it just me or did she remind anyone else of the man with the yellow hat from Curious George? And what about Bill: we saw him laugh hysterically, mouth “i love you” twice to Hillary, and we even saw him shed tears. Was he being overly dramatic for show or were his emotions genuine?

I was most disappointed with the keynote speaker because, considering that role was given to the one and only Barack Obama four years ago, I was saddened by the lackluster appeal of this year’s pick, Mark Warner.  You would think given the precedent set four years ago that the DNC would have given it to someone as inspiring and energetic as Obama was for years ago.

Now since 1 am has come and almost gone, I have decided that, in the spirit of Congressman Ryan, I would put done my theoretical electronic pen and, as my mom would say, “hit the sack, jack.”

On tomorrow’s agenda we have another delegate’s breakfast, speakers who actually look interesting, more cauci (caucus nominative singular, cauci nominative plural- all of you Latin fans know where I’m coming from) and my last day to try and get credentials before the convention moves away from the Pepsi Center and over to the Mile High Stadium on Thursday. But for now I must get some beauty sleep.

Good night, everyone.


C is for Credential and Credentials are Not for Me

August 26, 2008

So I apologize if the wit and banter which some of you may have come to expect from these posts is a little lacking in this post, but I think after you read about the day I have had, my lack of poetry will be understood, and the mere fact that I can string words together in a semi-coherent sentence will be a wonder all in its own.

This morning was met waaay too early. We had a 5:30 departure time to get into Denver before the action started. Once in Denver, the six students from the great Commonwealth of Pennsylvania piled off the bus at the Tech Center Marriott, also known as the home to the Pennsylvania delegation. Waddling through the parking lot in my most professional looking heels, I was in quite a lot of pain by the time I arrived in the lobby. Off went the heels, on went the flats. I thought this piece of fashion information was crucial to the structure and fluidity of this post since I started out with a disclaimer of sorts foretelling a story about my long day.

Nothing makes the day seem long quite like achy feet.

And for those of you wondering about another fashion staple of mine: no, the pink hair was not down for the world (or at least the delegates) to see, but rather, tucked back in a rather professional looking bun.

Our breakfast this morning did not disappoint by any standard of the word. Every Pennsylvania Democratic delegate was there, or at least it seemed that way to me. Just to name a few, the breakfast featured such honored delegates as Senator Bob Casey, Mayor Nutter, Mayor Street, various members of Congress, and Governor Rendell. There was also this guy who I think is a cowboy. If you are seeing a theme here from my last post, my only explanation is that maybe cowboy chic is making a comeback.

I tried not to let myself get too starstruck by these heavy hitters because, as I explicitly described with my Charlie and the Chocolate Factory reference from the previous post, I was seeking credentials wherever I could. Little did I know that the task of finding extra credentials lying around is even harder than picking a needle from a haystack. At least in that scenario at least there is a pointy prize to be gained at the end.

What I mean to say is, there were no credentials left. Pennsylvania is unique in the way that, instead of distributing extra credentials among the delegates themselves, each delegate enters their name in a raffle and the winning names get credentials. Hefty sigh for us hoepful high schoolers. But don’t count on this correspondent to be down and out so fast- I networked at this breakfast more than I do on Facebook, and trust me, I am on Facebook a lot.

After the breakfast we loaded up the bus and drove down to the University of Denver Cable Center to hear speakers.  Today’s theme du jour was “Meet the Delegates”, designed to give us a variety of delegates who talked to us, well, about how they became a delegate.  Truth be told, I only actually heard two of the six programmed speeches because in my mad rush to find credentials, I was out of the building for most of the afternoon.  But basically, every speaker just talked about what it means to be a delegate and how they got to be in that position.  Some were at their first convention ever and some were seasoned vets adding another convention notch onto their already double digit belt.  So, you would think that with the wide variety of people, that each speech would have been insightful and interesting anddifferent!  But alas, we basically heard the same speech over and over again, so I guess I’m lucky not to have had to sit through a complete afternoon of the same speech only.  I think it may have been seen as rude to fall asleep.  Possibly…

So, for those of you who read that last paragraph in the spirit of my mother and are worriedly puzzled as to what it means to be “out of the building for most of the afternoon”, there is indeed a story there.  At this point I should interject that I have just referenced my mother, and for those of you keeping score, that is two post references in a row.  I doubt any of you are keeping score, except for my father.  So, look out for two fatherly references in the story of my afternoon, which believe me when I tell you is a story.

At breakfast, my friend Lisa who I was schmoozing people with and I were told by the head of Pennsylvania’s Democratic Party that if we came back to the hotel at 1, he would do everything he could to scrounge up credentials for us.  So after the speaker, Lisa and I flagged down a very attractive prius cab to take us back to the hotel.  Once we got back to the Marriott, we went in and asked for our credentials at which point the staffers just looked at us dumbfounded because there were no credentials left anywhere.  And, to make things worse, Lisa told people we were coming back with credentials, so of course we couldn’t come back without them.

Trying every contact we could think of, Lisa got a hold of a contact she had bonded with at breakfast who told us to wait at the hotel for a hour and then he would, in his words, hook us up.  While we waited, one of the RAs came by to supervise us with another girl who had already picked up her credential.  After waiting for about a hour, this guy finally comes back and tells us there is nothing he can do.  So, after a day of schmoozing and asking and practically pleading, I could not muster up enough magic to get a credential, but as I now realize, the likelihood of me getting a credential is about as likely as finding on of those golden tickets inside of a chocolaty Willy Wonka bar. But you never know- there are tens of thousands of seats that need people to fill them, and if they need someone to fill Biden’s seat when he goes to the bathroom, I’ll be there.

So, even though I was not on the Convention floor, I did watch the speeches from the Convention Center at a DNC sponsored watch party. But, as I was walking towards the Convention Center, I was confronted by rows and rows of police officers, brandished nightsticks and all. Then, from behind us and in front of us, police officers on bicycles rode through the crowd and down towards the center. So, in listening to the safety tips my father always taught me, I threw off my shoes and went running after the bicycles. But I was soon stopped by a police officer standing idly at the corner of the street. He asked me if I could breathe through tear gas, and when I said that I could not, he told me that I should then turn around and run the other way. After that I looked back and saw a mob of police officers as far as the eye could see crowding around what I would learn later were protesters protesting the establishment of laws. I also found out that they not only used tear gas but rubber bullets. I was glad to run the other way back towards the button stand.

I finally got to the Convention Center to catch the tail end of the convention speeches plastered across multiple flat screen TVs. If it had not been for the tinge of disappointment in my heart in knowing that I had spent all day trying to get into something that I had to settle for seeing on TV, I would have found the setup in the center quite cool. The main hall was lined with convention related booths, exhibits, and even a station to check our Facebooks with a twin station to watch YouTube videos. But I did not explore the booths, and instead, went and slunk down in my chair to watch Michelle Obama’s incredibly successful speech with people who are equally if not more as interested as I am.

But even sunken down in my seat, I found Michelle’s speech affective in a way that not only made Barack seem more human but also showed that she is ready to be the mother of the country.I read an article in the Philadelphia Inquirer on the flight over here that talked about the four things Obama needs to do to gain the nomination. The one that stuck out to me was that voters need to get to know Obama as a person and I think that the video before Michelle’s speech and the intro by her brother allowed us as voters to learn about where the Obama’s came from and gave us the opportunity to visualize them as the first family. Even in the Convention Center she got a standing ovation.

So, even though the theme of our day was “Meet the Delegates”, I think that the day was more constructed to “Meet the Obamas”, and in that respect, I feel as though I could let the Obamas into my house for a Passover Sedar. And though I have not yet found the golden ticket, I have found a new family to help me find the afikomen.

Lily Gold is a rising junior at Germantown Friends School and is attending the Democratic National Convention as part of the JSA – Junior State of America. Check back for her blog posts throughout the week and tune into 91FM for live reports with WHYY’s Dave Heller in the afternoon.

Sleepless Deprived in Denver… Already

August 25, 2008

I am officially in the Mile High City, though I must say, this city seems to many miles high with bubbling Obama spirit. Or at least, that is probably what the information people walking around the Denver airport in cowboy hats would have told me. And, if any of the readers out there are avid skiers like I am, you know that these Western American, type-casted, human information stations are not usually floating around. But between these urban cowboys and the bellowing voice of Denver’s Mayor Hickenlooper welcoming delegates and travelers alike over the loudspeakers on the train, I can already come to one obvious conclusion: Denver is pulling out every known and unknown stop for this Democratic party.

My travel day went as well as should be expected. Though I did not have the fortune of sitting next to a delegate or a celebrity on the way over here (someone had Spike Lee on their flight), I did sit next to a nice lady who was on her way to the convention via Xerox and was going with marching orders to make copies of anything convention related. So for all of you interns out there: there is hope! You can use the “skill” of copying pro!

But before I even got on the flight, I staked my claim in terminal D9 scouting out potential JSAers. One girl complimented me on my shoes and, as it happened, I was sitting in the same row as another girl. Little did I know at the time that these two potentials would end up being my roommates. Who knew?

The official name of what I am doing here is the 2008 Democratic National Convention Symposium and, seeing as we are not a group of delegates, the 2008 DNC Symposium was welcomed to the Millennium hotel in Boulder CO with open arms. Don’t take that as a scoff for Boulder, though: I quickly located the closest Starbucks and Einstein Bagel. Sadly, I doubt I am going to see much more of Boulder because between our packed days in Denver and slee… oh wait… I was going to say sleeping, but seeing as it is my first night and I have to be up in about 4 hours suggests that I will not be doing much of that.

Let’s just hope that the coffee kicks in soon.

By far the highlight of the day was receiving my complete and extremely detailed schedule for the week. Now, I would share this information and give a little preview as to what I am going to be doing, but that ruins the element of suprise. But for those skeptics and believers out there who want something to chew on, we are hearing from a plethora of people including someone old, someone new, someone borrowed from Obama’s campaign and someone who is blue after losing a presidential election back during another unpopular war.

To help us navigate through the hustle and bustle of downtown Denver, JSA has taken the time to organize us into “pods.” A “Pod” is the group of kids that we walk around with and it is organized by state. Now, when I say organized by state, I mean that they are organized according to the closeness of the hotels that are delegations are staying at. Sadly, the Pennsylvania delegation does not seem to carry much pull with the hotel heirs and/or the Democratic National Convention Committee, because my pod is a bit, shall we say, assorted: Pennsylvania, Connecticut, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, Oklahoma, and Tennessee. So my pod is quite the bag of mixed nuts, but never fear- I met some of the Minnesotans and they are ready to rumble.

I know I said that I wasn’t going to divulge any of the headliners in our playbill, but I will say that the reason I need to wake up in what is now 3 and a half hours is because tomorrow, we have the equivalent of breakfast with the Disney Princesses in Cinderella’s Castle; we are having breakfast with delegates from our states.

But, this is not merely a photo-up with some syrup. Tomorrow, I will attempt the same feat attempted by Charlie Bucket in countless movies and books: I am going to go on a quest for a golden ticket. But this golden ticket goes around your neck, and instead of getting me into a chocolate factory to see Willy Wonka, it gets me into the Pepsi Center to see some of the greatest thinkers and orators of our time give the historical speeches which most people will have to dutifully watch on CNN.

Yes, I am talking about credentials. The delegates have them and I want them, so I will work all the charms my mother gave me to get them (in a completely platonic way of course).

But don’t fret. If at first you don’t succeed, try to smooze with them again. We have another ulterior-motive- driven breakfast on Tuesday where I will continue to work my charms, credentials or not. And if I don’t get on the floor tomorrow night, I will watch the speeches on C-SPAN just like you guys, except I will be at a watch party at the hustle-y bustle-y convention center. Now, as my eyes begin to close and my head begins to subtly turn off, I want to end by sending a little welcoming shoutout over to “Shipped to the DNC with Dan.” Since he is from Jersey, he is in a legit Pod with Hawaii and Guam, so hopefully he will be able to interject with breakfast food for thought from the Jersey delegation. But, I must say our brief meeting was quite cordial, so I would not hold my breath for a blogger summer smackdown.

So as it is almost time for me to wake up, I have resolved to try and cherish the few hours of sleep I can. But stay tuned for the next episode where we find out what features and creatures I see tomorrow and if I succeed in my quest for DNC gold.

The Anticipation is Building…

August 24, 2008

As I sit here on the eve of the opportunity of a lifetime, I find that there are no words left in my head.  I know that the title of this post may have led you to believe that I am bubbling over with excitement (which I am) but I just can’t seem to find any words left after the countless e-mails and phonecalls that have gone into the preparation for this day.  So instead of dealing with my lack of thoughts, I have spent the last 24 hours obsessing about the little details that go into preparing for an event like this, much as I would expect the people over at the Pepsi Center are doing as well.

Quite like those laboring volunteers, I too spent the day tending to my appearance, but instead of hanging up banners, I was in my manicurist’s chair dealing with hang nails.  In addition to my outward up-to-dateness, I also dove into this week’s issue of Time Magazine completely devoted to – that’s right – you guessed it – the Democrats. But, beyond my last minute cramming, the only prep that I have done preceding this hooplah of an event is following the ups and downs of election for the past year or so.  I guess the reason why I have spent the day doing trivial things is because the more I think about my lack of formal preparation, the more scared I get.

Now, I know I said that I have been devoid of thoughts, but I must admit that is partially a lie: I, like everyone else in the free world, waited in heated anticipation to find out when the pin would drop on Obama’s announcement of his running mate.  Luckily for me, instead of subscribing to Obama texts, I subscribe to CNN text message alerts, which means that I received my text at 12:52 am instead of waiting up until three.

Now for those of you who may wonder about the early morning Obama text, I read in this Fox News Article, not very Democratic of me I know, that the Obama camp scrambled to send out their text after their pick was leaked to the media (hence my premature CNN confirmed text).  But, despite the fumbling of the mass message, I completely 100 percent agree with the veep victor.

Biden adds experience especially in foreign policy, which is where Obama needs it most.  His liberalism compliments Obama nicely and his relationship with blue collar workers can potentially make Obama competitive in places dominated by Hillary supporters.  Now, I don’t mean to be a kill joy, but there is one major flaw in the veep selection (besides for the 3 electoral votes dominantly Democratic Delaware has to offer): Obama Biden.  Try saying that five times fast.

So, I guess I am filled with many thoughts, but the one in particular that seems to be dominating is my fear of the unknown, both in my role as a Junior StatesWOman and as a media correspondent.  But, now that I have found my way through the murky waters of my first post, I feel a sense of relief wash over me.  And I guess you will have to continue to tune in as I relate my escapades navigating my way through the waters of the DNC while trying to figure out how to be the best Junior StatesWOman I can be.

Lily Gold is a rising junior at Germantown Friends School and is attending the Democratic National Convention as part of the JSA – Junior State of America. Check back for her blog posts throughout the week and tune into 91FM for live reports with WHYY’s Dave Heller in the afternoon.