So I arrived in Denver on Sunday. Groom's aunt and uncle graciously agreed to adopt me for the week. On Sunday evening, they lent me their car - a hybrid with GPS (thank goodness) so I could explore. I met my good friend JL at the YDA party, which was a fun way to become acquainted with the craziness that was about to occur. Monday, Day One of the convention arrived. New to me was the credential procedure. Each day, every attendee had to pick up his or her credentials, the pass that allows you into the Pepsi Center to witness the speeches for the evening. For example, I was on a list at the Westin Hotel, so that's where I had to go to pick up my credentials. Anyway, I met up with a woman I greatly admire, whom I had offered to help this week. Her client is an organization made up of big-name celebrities who want to be involved in civic activities. Our task for the day was to find creds for these folks so that they could also get into the Pepsi Center. This sounds simple enough, but we were meeting people on street corners, in bars, and essentially begging anyone who might have access to these powerful drugs, er passes. There was something exciting about the energy of the task, but it was a bit humiliating to have to beg.
We stopped to drop off the creds that we had collected at a lunch press conference. This was when things got really weird. Already at this unassuming bar with a cute rooftop deck was Anne Hathaway, Matthew Modine, Josh Lucas, Richard Schiff, and this tiny little person who turned out to be Rachel Leigh Cook. As I'm famous for saying amazingly embarrassing things around famous people, I was just quiet and tried not to gawk.
Next up was an event sponsored by Lifetime. This event included an amazing line-up of women speaking to young women who plan to run for office. My mentor was moderating a panel, so I listened in as well, since I also want to run for office some day. While I was there, I was lucky enough to listen to Representative Schakowsky (IL-09) (I went through her husband's campaign school after college) and Representative Maloney (NY-14) (She inadvertently taught me humility upon arriving in DC) and Carol Jenkins, Director of the Women's Media Center.
After this event, we headed to Oceanaire for a reception on behalf of Senator Kerry. Everyone was crowding around the Senator, vying for his attention. When I shook his hand, I mentioned that I had worked for him in 2004 in Pennsylvania. He took the time to thank me for my hard work, and I have to admit I was both surprised and touched. I often get the feeling that electeds don't always appreciate fully what their staffers give up to work for them, so I was genuinely moved that he really stopped from the schmoozy action to thank me. In a move that was both embarrassing and a lot of fun, Mentor hired a car to pick us up - in a Rolls Royce. Random photographers were then interested in us. I'm not going to lie, that was fun, but also a little creepy.
By the way, it's now only about 5pm. Thus far I'd eaten a power bar and scored a glass of wine at the Kerry event. We are heading to the Pepsi center, credentials in hand. We stood in a huge security line, hoping to make it in before the surprise guest speaker (We had already heard it was Senator Ted Kennedy).
We make it in just in time, and didn't worry about where we were supposed to sit. We sat in the aisle of a row, just to make sure we wouldn't miss Kennedy's speech. The speech from the leader of progressive politics and the energy of the Pepsi center was enough to make me tear up immediately. I asked Mentor if this gets old, since it was my first convention and her umpteenth, and she assured me that it does not. He implored the audience to service and invoked big ideas and the hope that we can actually accomplish them. After his speech, Mentor and I moved down to a suite to watch the rest of the speakers.
Michelle Obama gave a personal, moving speech.[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-lWXwWoWgYI]
She spoke of the importance of family, of the heroism of Clinton's run for office, and of Martin Luther King Jr's inspirational work. I'm not going to lie, I cry every time she speaks of her husband. It is so sincere, and loving and it makes me believe that love is possible despite the challenges of being in politics. The Obama rugrats come out on stage, and steal the show. Her speech inspires me to want to do more, and it reminds me of why I got into politics in the first place. It also makes me realize the power of relationships in the face of anything, and I am reminded again why I love Groom.
Now, it was only about 10pm. Mentor's client is hosting an event - on a historic train outside of union station. One of the cars was the favored travel car of Huey Long. Along comes Kerry Washington, Alan Cummings, the folks who were at the lunch press conference, and Spike Lee. We sipped Reposado together (briefly) before the celebs left to find other entertainment. After chatting with some folks who raise money to support reconstruction efforts in Louisiana, I moved on for the evening.
After standing in line outside of the Planned Parenthood party (I abhor lines - in DC I very rarely attend anything that involves lists, lines, or other forms of elite snobbery - it's the WI in me), I got bored and headed over to the Rock the Vote Concert. I'd love to tell you I knew who was playing but I had no idea.
Eventually, I was bone tired, and realized that this was only the first day. Exhausted, I headed to the train station to catch the light rail back to Groom's aunt and uncle's house. I honestly have no idea when I got back, but I knew I had to be up around 6:30am to start day two.