Posts Tagged ‘JSA’

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.

Advertisements

Second Day At the DNC

August 26, 2008

Well after approximately 3 hours of sleep, I awoke this morning at 4:30 AM. After stumbling around getting ready, I got down to the lobby of the hotel where a feast of egg and cheese sandwiches awaited us and then piled onto buses organized by state. The buses departed at a little after 5:30 AM headed for Denver. My bus, which consisted primarily of New Jerseyans, but also included one person from Hawaii, another from Indiana, and another from Guam, dropped us off at the Inverness Hotel where we were to meet the delegation from New Jersey for breakfast.

As delegates began trickling in to the breakfast we nervously stood outside the doors of the dining room hoping that one or two might introduce themselves to us. Contrary to my expectations, many of the delegates were extremely friendly, and seemed genuinely interested in talking to us and finding out more about why we were there. Included among the many delegates we met: Governor Jon Corzine, and my Congressman Rush Holt. It’s really cool to see so many people that you have seen only on TV in real life. To me, it adds a whole new dimension to them, both literally and figuratively.

After the delegates breakfast we went to the Cable Center to listen to a few speakers, and then arrived at the Colorado Conference Center to watch the convention. Now, I know you may be thinking “shouldn’t you be at the Pepsi Center to watch it live?” The answer to that question is… well yeeeah. However, for reasons which I will elaborate on further in another post credentials for the Pepsi Center are scarce, and are not supplied by JSA to us, as we are instead expected to beg them off of kind-hearted delegates.

More later, another early start tomorrow.

Dan Shipper is a junior at Princeton Day School in Princeton, NJ. He’s part of a delegation of high school students with JSA – the Junior State of America – who are attending the Democratic National Convention this week. Check back often for Dan’s on-the-ground accounts of the DNC.

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.

First Day in Colorado

August 25, 2008

I woke up this morning much the same way as I did yesterday morning: to the sound of my phone, very, very early in the morning. Yesterday morning came the news of Obama’s vice-presidential pick in a predawn text message. This morning my cell phone alarm woke me up for an early trip to Newark airport. After an interesting flight full of excited Democrats headed for the Convention decked out in complete Obama regalia, I arrived in Denver Airport.

The airport is huge – there’s a separate train just to get from my terminal to baggage claim – but it’s also new, clean and well designed. Besides the obvious flood of Obama supporters crowding every walkway and jetway, there were policemen and dogs everywhere due to the elevated threat level. Every few minutes a recording would come over the loudspeaker and announce the elevated threat level. I swear, every time an election comes around, be it congressional or presidential, the threat levels go all over the place. (I wonder why.)

In baggage claim I met with the rest of my JSA group and we took a 40 minute shuttle to Boulder, Colorado where our hotel is. The hotel is nice and is full of JSA people, but I can’t wait until tomorrow when the action starts!

Dan Shipper is a junior at Princeton Day School in Princeton, NJ. He’s part of a delegation of high school students with JSA – the Junior State of America – who are attending the Democratic National Convention this week. Check back often for Dan’s on-the-ground accounts of the DNC.