Thursday, February 26, 2009
I know I've neglected my blog for a while. so much has been going on here, but I needed to sit down and capture this thought.
Spring, is for getting up early. Harriet has been sleeping later and better and I've somewhat caught up on my sleep in the past couple of weeks. Naturally this time of year makes me want to get up, get healthy, get to yoga or the gym, but money and the economy keep me here wondering what I can do for a half an hour before the house wakes up (if I don't wake someone up in the meantime).
This morning has been a dreamy mornign and I had to sit down and write "Spring is for getting up." It's dark and damp. The smell of a pot of coffee fills the house. Birds start their morning routine way before the first light of day begins. The news of the day gets poured into my brain. I finish just as the slightest hint of light appears in the east. Now the sky is painted with pinks and blues. One cup of coffee in my belly and a baby starts to babble away.
Spring is for getting up early.
Monday, February 9, 2009
Amy’s office was packed with Minnesotans who’d obviously gotten the memo about free food. They were taking up every inch, corner, and desk chair of available space. Most had decided to spend the day with their fair senator and looked like they’d been there for hours. All of the promised Potica (a Slovenian pastry they eat on the Iron Range) and Spam puffs were long gone. I knew quite a few people who toiled in the trenches for Amy over the years and it was great to see them and exchange battle scars. When they handed over the envelope with our golden tickets inside, a serious tone was taken. “The gates open at 8:00AM. You can start lining up at 4:00am. There are directions as to what train station to get off, but I can’t promise anything.” A lurker standing behind me said she was going to get there at 3:30. Whoa – these people were serious. Do we really have to arrive so early to get in line to ‘stand’? We were skeptical.
Amy was taking photos with constituents outside of her office. There was a long line and an aide handling the line and taking names. Amy seemed harried, like this had been a long day. Clearly people had been parked there since it began and they didn't expect this sort of turn out. Every hour or so she would invite people to come into the conference office where she gave a little stump speech. I listened from outside during one, and she was as good as ever. On point, charming, funny, and ticking off accomplishments. She clearly loved being a senator. Her husband John recognized us immediately and gave a warm greeting. We chatted about the party they had at their house the night before. I apologized for not being able to attend and he said to faggedabadit. It was crowded and went late and it felt like a college party. Amy caught sight of us and implored me (a few times) to go back and see her office. She recently had it redecorated and was very proud to show it off. I left the rest of our crew out in the hallway and made my way toward the back of the office to see Amy's personal office. It was beautiful and very feminine, done up in soft yellow's and blue's. I met Amy's new chief of staff Marjorie (her 3rd in 2 years?) and she said she recognized my name. After all this time? I'm still shocked to hear that the 4 months I spent with Amy still land on anyone's memory let alone get passed on by word of mouth. True, it was an eventful 4 months - 2004 Presidential election, John Kerry, hip surgery, 35 conventions - but I'm still surprised that anyone even remembers me. And being there also gave that little tug of regret. The voice inside my head whispers, "This could be me. I could work here. Look at how lucky these people are to be working in this city, at this time!" We make our choices, and I don't regret mine, but one can't help but dream.
I made my way back to the others. Joe's boss, the Mayor of St. Paul Chris Coleman and entourage had arrived and the mood was jovial and heightened. Amy recognized the Mayor with all the fanfare he deserved and a few of us plotted our next move. Food and drinks. At this point, my friend Leah Drury arrived with her mom. She and I belong to a fringe group of women who call ourselves Progressive Women for Democracy. What fun to see all of these people out of Minnesota, happy, celebratory, making the pilgrimage to our nation's Capitol for a party and a prayer. A prayer of thanks.
Sunday, February 8, 2009
Their train stop was one stop from Reagan International Airport. Anyone questions the convenience, comfort, or civility of commuting by train is just crazy. There is something so downright gentile about riding in a train that bus riding just doesn't get you. There's an informal quality about bus riding. Since you're all riding while facing the same way, why not act up, yell things out, talk loudly, and dare people to turn around andstop you. On a train or subway or, in the dreams of many St. Paulites, light rail, people face different directions, holding each other's comfort in their hands, points of focus are scattered instead of with pin point focus on the back of an anonymous bus driver's head.
Sunday, February 1, 2009
As most know, tickets to the inauguration were free, but you had to contact your Congressperson. It's been well documented that demand was far greater than supply. I took a chance and called my former employer, Senator Amy Klobuchar's office. (Here's my disclaimer for those who don't know. I worked for Senator Amy Klobuchar as her campaign manager when she was Hennepin County Attorney. She wasn't yet running for Senator, but was running for everything at once.) I was told to send an email stating my case, how many were in my party and who, and why we wanted to go. I think I remember hearing that there were 5000 requests for tickets and she only had 365. Our other metro area congresspersons, Betty McCollom and Keith Ellison both got 12 times more requests than they had tickets for.
When I received the confirmation email at work that fateful day, I think my co-workers on the 3rd floor could hear me screaming from the First Floor. I was elated, shocked, and it solidified that, “Man, I might actually get to go to this.” Sure, plane tickets were bought, but I always felt like something might stand in our way of actually getting there. I also assumed that having some place to stand, a section, a patch of grass, would make it seem official. Like I was really there, counted maybe, instead of just being out on the mall where it would be every man for himself. That's what I thought. And boy, in hindsight, was I wrong. Soon to be dubbed The Golden Tickets by the media, we knew we had secured something special…or did we?
I soon received an invitation to Senator Klobuchar’s office for “A Reception for Minnesotans attending the Inauguration”. It was from 10:00AM to 4:00PM on Monday, the day before the inauguration, at the Hart Senate office building Room 302. The email instructed that those of us, who received tickets through Amy’s office, should plan to pick them up during the reception.
Joe, Scott, Jen and I spent the morning lazing around. I actually slept until 10:00AM! Those of you who are parents understand the outrageousness of this statement. Joe got up at 8:00 for 2 hours of uninterrupted reading time. Scott was still struggling with some jet lag issues from PAKISTAN and had no problem sleeping in. We flew in the night before and missed the "We Are One" concert. How were we to know that the Concert of the Century would be planned exactly during our flight time? After a mid-morning breakfast at Brueggar's Bagels accompanied by lively conversation about parenting, Pakistani culture vs. Russian, and the similarities of non-profits, we showered and headed to the train for our first ride into the capitol and to Amy's office.
The two images you see posted here, are the instructions that came with our tickets. We were assigned to the BLUE ticketed area and we were able secure tickets for Scott and Jen in the SILVER area.
This is Scott's wife Jen.
This is their living room in their beautiful home in Alexandria, Virginia.
Joe and Scott have been friends since their early college days at the University of Minnesota. In fact, Joe has an amazing group of 5 friends who remain close even though every one of them lives in a different state, Virginia, Montana, Illinois, Pennsylvania, and us in Minnesota. As a woman who's married into this posse, I find it a peculiar place to be at times. I think most of us who have married these men have felt some sort of exasperation bordering on awe at times when one of these fellows have appeared in our lives, unexpected, and they are able to pick up where they left off with none of the baggage that sometimes comes with female reunions. It's a beautiful thing - friendship like that, and this was one of those times we were so grateful for an excuse to lean on it. It was also a reason that Joe and I weren't beg, borrowing, and stealing to get into one of the Inaugural Balls. We had these awesome friends to catch up with and could have our own little party with them.
Now is the time that I tell you a couple of things you won't quite believe, but I assure you they are true. Scott works for the Department of Energy in their nuclear non-proliferation program securing nuclear weapons from crossing borders. The night before our arrival he returned from a 10 day trip to Pakistan and Armenia. Not too long ago, I think after Emerson was born, Scott stopped by our house while in Minnesota and he was busy learning Chinese because he was going to be doing some work in that country for a couple of months. During the late 1990's they lived in Russia (speaks fluent Russian) and he helped retrain former Russian nuclear scientists in other vocations so they wouldn't use their expertise on the nuclear black market. He used to work at the United Nations. He moonlights as a DJ and likes dance music too. See, I said you wouldn't believe me, and I'm sure I got a few things wrong and Scott would correct me, but I got the gist right. Scott's an important guy and it blows our minds every time we see him. But, to Joe, he's DJ Roko, from Sheboygan, Wisconsin.
Jen is no less important, as she does work that heals souls while Scott's work heals our addiction to the toys of war. She's a licensed Social Worker and works as a group therapist and advocate for the City of Alexandria's sexual assult center. We hadn't seen these two for a couple of years, and they'd moved since Joe was there for Scott's 30th birthday. All great excuses to head to Washington for friendship, laughs, and a bit of history to boot. Admittedly, they weren't as geeked up as Joe and I were about the inaugural festivities, but they were excited about Barack and a regime change in Washington.