Tuesday, August 26, 2003

Dean for America

Ok, I don't spout off on politics much here. In fact, I can't even think of a time when I have. But the truth is, I'm a democrat. For the most part. Usually vote democratic. So there.

Anyway, a classmate of mine, originally from Connecticut, is big into working campaigns. I've always wanted to, so I've been bugging her to volunteer at an event. Well, finally, she asked me to work the Howard Dean event today in good old Chi-town. Since class didn't start until 4, and the event was scheduled to end at 1, I decided to go for it. I wound up as part of her local press crew, where my job was to make sure members of the press made it easily from the credentials table to the press riser.

Yesterday was the walk-through. but it didn't prepare me for today. I arrived early (no minor miracle, given my penchant for lateness) fifteen whole minutes before I needed to be there. After a short wait, we were taken upstairs, where we helped put together banners and such while waiting for the press to arrive. Since Dean was speaking at a neighboring convention, the press arrived in a trickle at first.

Eventually, his speech at the other convention ended, and the press (and public) flooded over to ours. Governor Dean was scheduled to speak at noon; the height of the lunch hour, and the hottest time of an already hot, humid day. It was around 11 when the people were finally admitted to the terrace, and what an eclectic crowd - hippie types, college students, professionals, senior citizens - they all came to hear from the gathering storm that is Howard Dean. They were not disappointed. After a young, dynamic, African-American speaker introduced him, the Governor went on, albiet a few minutes late. He spoke to an enthusiastic crowd, who chanted and cheered each point he made. And good old George Bush, Jr. gave him plenty to make.

After he spoke for about thirty minutes, he worked the crowd, shaking hands. In the distance, rainclouds gathered. My classmate called us together, and told us she would get us in a photo with the Governor. But nature had plans of her own, and the DFA film crew needed to break down their equipment in a hurry, lest thousands of dollars of sensitive equipment get damaged by the impending downpour. Tom and I were pulled away from where we waited for the Governor, and the photographer bailed for the bus, rather than get caught in the rain (obviously, he's not a Rupert Holmes fan). I told Dave, the national coordinator, that he owed me a photo op for the one we'd lost (he chuckled and said "okay" in the way someone who's been told they have to do something they have no power over does). Tom, Jonathon and I helped Nathan break down the equipment. By this time, the Governor had left the terrace, and Chicago's finest weren't admittting anyone without credentials to any of the back areas. But we had them, (and what a cool feeling it was, to flash the "staff" badge and get into any area I needed to) so we were in.

We zipped across Navy Pier's interior to the North side, where the press bus and Governor Dean's car waited. He's not a nominated candidate, so he doesn't get a Secret Service detail (I'm hoping he is nominated, because I've heard that it's very exciting to work a national campaign, with all the activity). We dropped the equipment in the bus while trying to dodge raindrops from the deluge occuring around us. Nathan thanked us for our help, and went into the bus. We high-tailed it back inside, where it was cool and dry.

Once inside, Dave thanked us again for our help, and went upstairs. Jonathon went with him. Tom and I stood around, chatting. I heard a group approching from behind us, and turned around. It was none other than Governor Dean himself. I took a chance, and said loudly, "Good luck Governor." He turned saw me, and said "Thanks!" as he stretched out his hand to shake mine. As he did, he noticed we were wearing the "Staff" badges, and said "You guys did a great job here today. Thank you very much for all your help, I appreciate it. Keep it up!" He shook Tom's hand as well, and we were so shocked neither of us could think of much to say beyond "thank you very much, Governor, and come back here often."

If first impressions mean anything, I'll say I'm impressed. He's not tall (I'm 5'8", and we were about equal in height), but he is friendly, and considerate; he was fully willing to run out into the rain ("Just tell me which car I'm going to before I make a mad dash"), but when a staffer told him she had an umbrella for him, he told her to try to get as many people under it as she could.

Needless to say, I told my classmate I'd help whenever she needed it. And maybe someday, I can tell my grandchildren I shook the hand of a future President. How cool would that be?

Apartment Hunting (Cont'd)

I think I've found a new home! On Saturday, I went to look at three apartments in a multi-unit building. None of them impressed me. But the one diagonally across from them did. The owner had just put out a sign; he hadn't even published an ad yet. The apartment is $135 a month less than what I pay now (not quite the $300 drop I'd hoped for, but then, those which fell into the $850 range sucked) and only 60 square feet smaller. It's got hardwood floors, two window air conditioners, and a built-in dining room hutch. All in all, it's pretty nice, and my classmates were all excited last night when I told them. I just need to turn in the application, go through a credit check, and - if all goes well - my hunt is over. And I couldn't be happier. The best part? I'm four blocks (count 'em, baby!) from beautiful, scenic Wrigley Field.

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