Thursday, September 27, 2012

Kidneys on My Mind

No, I didn't make chile with kidney beans. But kidneys have been a major topic lately.

My Jamba Marimba bandmate Dottie, who is in her 60s, recently donated a kidney to a childhood friend of her daughter. This surgery was scheduled much earlier this year but ended up postponed for many reasons, due to doctor, donor and recipient issues. There sure is a lot to coordinate with it comes to transplants. More than you want to know, and more than I ever knew!

My cousin PJ, in her late 50s, is in ICU at the Brigham in Boston. She has fought Hep C, was on a liver transplant list, and went into renal failure almost two weeks ago. She is fighting for her life right now. I know she's in the best place to deal with this. And that my angel sister Linda, who is an ER nurse at Beth Israel Hospital nearby, keeps an eye on things. And my Concord cousins are there on site, keeping us posted and channeling the prayers.

Another connection is the friend and coworker of my daughter, a 35 year young woman who has kidney disease and is on a transplant list because there is no family who can help her.

Recently I listened to this report on NPR. It made so much sense. The decisions about who gets an organ should be this logical.

Update: I didn't realize I didn't post this until I went to update. My cousin Patty Jo passed yesterday. She fought a massive infection for two weeks in ICU. My heart is with my Concord Cousins, my Auntie Marilyn, and PJ's husband John Barbadoro, who we love as a Sully. PJ, you will be missed. But we know you are on the other side with our dearly 'depahted' Sullys, who were there to meet you at the crossing.

A True Masshole

According the urban dictionary:
1. For residents of Massachusetts, it is an achieved title for driving faster, being reckless, cutting other drivers off often, and having no patience for other drivers on the road.

2. For non-residents of Massachusetts, it is a term of dislike for the people of Massachusetts that drive like an asshole.
   'I was such a masshole today when I went down route 128 at 98 mph.' 
   'Don't even think about cutting me off, you masshole!'
I personally think Scott Brown is a Masshole. It has nothing to do with how he drives his legendary pick up truck. It has to do with this.
 The man is the INCUMBENT. This is all he's got??? Run on your record, man. Oh, you can't.

Elizabeth Warren. Our next Senator from the great state of Massachusetts.

Friday, September 14, 2012

A Long Day's Upload

If you'd like to see my slideshow of the Convention trip, including a few video clips of dance breaks and the grand finale, you can view it here. If you can't see it, let me know. It's the first time I've tried to use Picasa albums here. Now to finish my article for the papers, then off to the tasting room- I'm back on Fridays!

Thursday, September 13, 2012

All Good Things Must Come to an End

The downside of Thursday night's speech was...the end of the convention. But not the end of the story. Tens of thousands of people in the arena, plus all those who were witness via TV and internet will now be channeling the positive energy we took away. I still needed a little energy to get out of Charlotte. My flight was at 11:30 am but we were alerted via USAirways email to arrive 3 hours early due to full planes of delegates exiting Charlotte.

After packing up with Tanisha, helping her get her bags down to her 3 am taxi to the airport, I hit the hay for a planned 3.5 hours of sleep before I had to make my exodus. Curtains were pulled tight to block out the parking lot security light. I foolishly did not call for a wake up, relying on my phone alarm as the phone sat charging right next to me on the night stand. I'm sure it went off at 6:30 as planned. Too bad I had it on vibrate. Whatever internal alarms we have in our heads went off abruptly, and I sat up in the darkened room in a panic. What time is it? Oh.My. 7:30 am. It could have been worse, I could have slept until 10. Good thing I had packed up the night before. I grabbed everything off the chargers and packed the electronics. Jumped into the shower. Threw on clothes. Ran downstairs in time to catch the 8 am DNC bus to the airport with several other delegates.

We sailed through check in and security. I got a huge cup of coffee, a banana and a small apple pastry, and settled in with my computer. A helpful and friendly TSA agent on her break showed me Air Force 1 parked in the high security area away from the regular gates. Eventually I noticed no planes taking off or landing. The big plane taxied away, and appeared a little while later on the runway, taking off in view of the window where I was sitting (near one of the few electrical outlets)! I didn't have enough time to get my camera back out, but I won't soon forget the sight of it taking off from my ringside seat. This of course delayed the next flights a bit.

My flight to Boston was full of Massachusetts delegates. Rep. Ed Markey was behind me on the jetway. Most of the other MA dignitaries had been on the earlier flight. It was a very quiet flight, with lots of snoozing going on. I caught up on the stack of newspapers I'd collected all week. And was very happy to see a text from Alina when I landed, that she was waiting in the cell lot to come pick me up. Time to switch into Sullivan Family mode. Considering the political temperments of my mother and brother, I ditched my Obama jewelry creations, and my pins. And tried very hard to keep my focus on the wonderful hospitality of the people of Charlotte. It was a grand time, and you all are to be congratulated on a job well done.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Thursday Night My BODY Needed Mending

I don't know how long it has been since I've slept so little and done so much.

Every morning we get up closer and closer to the 7 am breakfast meeting. Today we tried to decide whether or not to go to the Women's Caucus. When our breakfast meeting ended early, we gave green light. Tanisha got out earlier than I did on the bus (I took the light rail) and saved me a seat in the ballroom. Once again, a full room by the time the speakers began at 10, I'd say over 1,000. We were right up front, and had a great view for Lily Ledbetter, Ashley Judd, Jill Biden and Michelle Obama's presentations. This is the Year of the Woman, no doubt.

We got back to the hotel for a quick clean up and dress up for the BIG NIGHT. Tanisha had a fine hat her grandmother gave her to wear for the occasion. Her grandmother is a hat lady, and wanted her to have a proper hat. It was beautiful.

Karen Russel had on a fabulous Donkey Head Hat.

Format was a little different tonight. There were some warm up speakers. Then James Taylor held court, strode onto the stage, approached the chair waiting for him, and announced something like "I think I'll just SIT on this chair". He wooed the crowd with Carolina In My Mind, How Sweet It Is, You've Got a Friend...ah, JT. Then he told the diverse crowd of 20,000 "I'm an old white guy and I'm for Barack Obama". Excellent. Mary J. Blige rocked the house for her set, and Foo Fighters rounded out the music breaks.

Then we had the presentation of colors and National Anthem sung very well by Marc Anthony. But no pledge...hmmm....we'd heard a rumor about the pledge...they were saving it for prime time. For good reason. Gabby Giffords walked out under her own power, accompanied by Debbie Wasserman Schultz, and recited the pledge along with a visibly moved crowd.

Massachusetts was well represented during the convention with Gov. Patrick, Joe Kennedy III and Elizabeth Warren last night. Tonight early on we had Mayor Menino (whose speech was unintelligible) and Barney Frank (whose wandering from his script caused the teleprompter to go black after about 30 seconds). Barney was definitely being Barney. Hey, he's retiring after long and outstanding service, he gets to go off script! The guy sitting next to me said, during "Mumbles" Menino's speech, "Aren't you from Boston? You don't talk like that." I told him I'd been away for a long time, but to rest assured that NO one in Boston talks like Menino. Later we had John Kerry, who is VERY understandable. He actually smiled. And made some jokes. And gave heartfelt thanks to our nation's soldiers and veterans, along with the entire arena.

There was a big focus tonight on veterans, the military, don't ask don't tell, marriage equality, more auto industry. And women, of course. Rep. Tammy Baldwin, running for Senate in Wisconsin, was one of the stars of the night. Also giving a barn burner speech was Gov. Jennifer Granholm of Michigan. And Caroline Kennedy, always wise and graceful.

The videos were excellent, as they had been all week. Heroes, Stronger Together, American Voices, all bringing the themes together. We also got to see the Fired Up, Ready to Go video again, that we'd seen at the Women's Caucus earlier. Edith S. Childs was sitting a few rows behind us, in her beautiful church hat, in the SC delegation. You have to watch this one. I just love it.

The Biden and Obama families were sitting right in front of us as time for Joe's and Barack's speeches were coming up, having moved down from the sky boxes behind us. We were so lucky to have such great seats. Then it was time to Fire It Up, Ready for Joe!

When Joe was done, we couldn't wait for President Obama to take the stage. FINALLY! His speech was very good. I hope everyone listened to it, and watched it, rather than depending on the talking heads and newspapers. I don't understand how anyone can doubt the intent and competency of this man. When the families joined Obama and Biden on the stage, we were buried in a storm of confetti. It was an incredible moment. A transcript and tape are here.

I'll post some video clips of the night when I get them edited.

The Time Warner Arena that night was crazy when we were leaving. I got separated from Tanisha, finally got her via phone, but decided it was too hard to find each other. She ended up in a sea of people heading to the buses, I ended up in a sea of people heading to the light rail. My claim to fame on the way home was walking to and through the Convention Center behind Ashley Judd. The clock hands passed into the new day as I got on the light rail.

Wednesday Morning Papers Didn't Come

Oh yes they DID! Fact Check on that title: Pants on Fire! Every morning there was a stack of them for us: Washington Post, Charlotte Chron, NYT, USA Today...we just didn't have time to read them all! I took them and saved the front sections for later. Here they are, all laid out on our ironing board. Our rally signs went in our window at the end of every day. Rather festive, eh?

Our Wednesday morning meeting ended up running long, included a group photo. I had scheduled a morning health care session but had to be there early and it wasn't possible. So we took it a little easy, knowing we'd have a busy and long night. My roommate Tanisha's camera crashed, and she needed a bag to tote stuff home in, so we walked to the nearby Costco and took care of that. Good thing I brought my card. Good deed for the day, Check.

We took the DNC bus to the event tonight, and got some seats that weren't directly in front of the Puerto Rico delegation, who talked to each other and on their phones nonstop during speeches. Had some wandering around time. Saw Michael Steele being interview, one of our delegation, Azziem The Dream Underwood being interviewed by Comedy Central Indecision 2012.

Then I walked over to the Texas section and found Don and Susan. Met their new State Chair Gilberto Hinojosa. Another small world moment. He told me his daughter Xochitl worked in WA for Hillary in 2008. Now that's a name I'll never forget! I was her area contact for the campaign and we spoke quite a bit during that year.

My favorite speakers early that night included our Sen. Patty Murray, Union leaders Richard Trumka (AFL-CIO) and Bob King (UAW)-our neighboring MI delegation went wild, Black Caucus Rep Al Green from TX, who I always enjoyed hearing when I lived there, Rep. Emanuel Cleaver II from Missouri, the women of the Senate with Barbara Mikulski, Cecile Richards of Planned Parenthood, Sister Simone Campbell from Nuns on the Bus, Kamala Harris-Atty Gen of CA- keep your eye on her, Dream Act Activist Benita Valiz, Sandra Fluke, and of course, Elizabeth Warren.

But we were all there to hear the Big Dog. Love him or hate him (or both), Bill Clinton is one of the most excellent orators of our generation. I heard him once before, in McMinnville OR with my sister Mary, during his stumping for Hillary. If you missed his speech, you should take the time to listen to it. He was off script for a good 2/3 of it and was obviously in the zone. That man loves an audience! If you are a Democrat, watch it, you'll love it. If you are a Republican, you should watch it. You'll hate it...he passed the fact checks. If you are an Independent, a disenchanted Democrat, or apolitical, you REALLY need to watch it.

When President Obama came out, the crowd went wild.

After ALL that we had Roll Call, where each state delegation declares their votes. It takes a while. Alabama started about 11:30. We didn't get to Washington until about an hour later. The arena was empty by the time we left, the light rail was done for the night, so we caught the late night bus shuttle back to the hotel, arriving at 2 am (when the bar closed). Oh well, that 6:30 wake up call comes early!

Tuesday Afternoon Is Neverending...

We got a whopping 5 hours sleep, and hit credentials at 6:30. Our prize of the day was a BNSF towel, and NARAL goodie bags. Our breakfast speakers included Sen. Patty Murray! Great way to start the day. Tanisha and I, and many others, headed out on the bus to the convention center to attend the Womens Caucus. What a line up! We heard from Nancy Pelosi, Stephanie Schriock from Emily's List, Sen. Amy Klobuchar (MN), Donna Brazile, Ashley Judd, Cecile Richards, Debbie Wasserman Schultz, Valerie Jarrett, Nancy Keenan from NARAL, Kathleen Sebelius, and Sandra Fluke. Well worth the morning.

The big adventure of the day was getting to the Planned Parenthood rally. After a detour due to another (anti war) rally, we made it to the event a little bit late. We were harassed the whole way by chubby men with microphones telling us we were all going to hell, and surrounding us with their 'abortion porn'. All the Tshirts were gone (they were cool, I was disappointed). We got signs, and some condom packs for the girls that said Protect Yourself from Romney/Ryan. Lots of pink. Lots of women. In front of the NASCAR Hall of Fame. And near the Fox News stage. Nice.

After that drama, we light railed back to the hotel, ate some lunch, and geared up for the session. Or ungeared, as it turned out as I attempted to minimize my carry alongs and left my phone behind accidentally. And a pen. We took the DNC bus, for a change, and it was a good decision. We were dropped of right by the Time Warner Arena.

The Tuesday speakers were great, including Corey Booker, Deval Patrick, Tammy Duckworth. Joe Kennedy III introduced a fabulous video tribute to his Uncle Ted. Stacey Linh gave testimony to the importance of Obamacare as she spoke about her young daughter Zoe, who has needed heart surgeries since birth. They led us up to Joaquin Castro introducing his twin, Julian, mayor of San Antonio, the youngest mayor of a major US city. Joaquin is running for Congress. We will be served well by these two wonderful young men. Our young Democrats give me great hope for the future.

But the prize of the night went to Michelle Obama. What a First Lady we have! Bill and Hill were quite the first couple. But look out for Barack and Michelle. We are indeed lucky Americans to have them as our President and First Lady. By now you've all heard the speech or at least read about it. I wish everyone would listen to it.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Monday Monday

Note: It's Wednesday morning. Finally getting a chance to catch up.

Our first order of business for the day was picking up credentials and swag of the day before breakfast. Barack Obama, the Official Inaugural Book (I should have brought a bigger bag) and the Yes We Can music CD. I also bought our official delegation hat for $10. Very stylish.

Breakfast buffet was fabulous, former Speaker Tom Foley joined us, and our morning speakers included RT Ryback, Mayor of Minneapolis. Liked him. I had notes, but sadly they got wet. Oh well. Forward.

My roommate went off to the African American Caucus, while I stayed here a bit to finish my Sunday blog. I set off on my own, taking the oh so convenient light rail, in to the CarolinaFest and with high hopes of connecting with Juanita Jean and Bubba. I walked the festival area, taking in sights and sounds. Lots of people, happy people, and families with young kids, vendors galore. Food vendors, like Dan the Pig Man, groups like Girl Scouts and the health care bus. Even a water station where you could fill your water bottle. Hydration is important on a hot muggy day.

As I sat eating another frozen yogurt by the MSNBC stage, I got a text from Susan. They were at a TX delegation lunch at Whiskey River, on the second floor of the building by the MSNBC stage. Perfect! After a failed attempt to get me a credential to get in, and a security man who wouldn't let me near the door, I finally spotted them!

We had a cold drink in a Brueggers Bagels, then walked the festival back towards the Convention Center and bus area. It was such a blast. Don got interviewed by Fox News! What a hoot.

We found a spot to take a rest in the shade, but Susan didn't need much rest, what a trooper! She was like a kid at Disneyland. This week has been a Disneyland for political junkies, for sure.

Our delegation had a work crew on a house building project with Craftsman House United. Heroes at Home, Rebuilding Together, and NextGen Home/Champion Builders teamed up during both conventions to build a house for a military vet. Half of the house was built in Tampa, half in Charlotte. It will be put together Tuesday and located in Charlotte. We got to do a little painting, cleaning cabinets, siding, sweeping. I personally pulled painters tape off moulding and touch up corners with wall paint. As we finished, it poured. We stood under an EZ Up until it stopped. Everyone else headed back to the hotel to get ready for the BBQ event at 7.

I headed uptown again to hear James Taylor. Not a particularly good decision, but it added to the adventure.

Another big storm hit 4 songs into the set. I took a spot by an EZ Up where I could hear well and see a big screen, and as the sky opened up again, I was ready. Getting cozy with lots of Charlotte volunteers at the water station was fun. Then they canceled the music and told us to get inside because there was a tornado warning. Great. Got in to the EpiCenter without getting too drenched and waited it out. Met more nice people, including a city manager (who disclosed his job after I praised the city). Decided to make a run for the light rail station as the clock hit 6 pm...

The next part of the adventure included getting off at the stop nearest to Mac's Speed Shop, where our event was. I had no idea where to go so asked someone who got off there. First person was not from Charlotte and didn't know. A nice African American couple showed me where the street was, said turn right. I did, and kept walking, no BBQ. It started to rain. Then a car pulled up. It was the couple. They said, get in, we'll take you. So off we went. No BBQ. So I looked up the address in my program. It was in the opposite direction! They drove me to the door. More Charlotte Magic. I am enjoying this city.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Sunday Adventures

 I apologize in advance for the awkward format. I was having trouble with the post. I figured I'd better let it go or I'll get too far behind.

I first looked at my watch at 6 am. Good, I can wake up at 6 am. But today I don't have to. I rolled over and the next thing I knew it was 10 am. Both Tanisha and I caught up on our lost sleep, and were ready to see Charlotte.

Too late for breakfast at the hotel, we decided to walk to the light rail station, which was supposed to be 'just a few blocks'. Long blocks. And it was hot. And muggy. The shuttle had gone to the airport. A cab came by and offered us a free lift but we thought we must be almost there...when the shuttle came by us and stopped, we got in. At the station, we got our week passes for $20, such a deal! And took the train in to Uptown (which is kinda like Downtown) Charlotte.

Right near the Convention stop was the MSNBC stage.

 And across from that, Frozen Yogurt. AH, breakfast, lunch and coldness all in one! It was the kind of place with many kinds of FroYo, you serve yourself, add toppings and pay by weight. I had dark chocolate, vanilla bean, pomegranate and watermelon, with almonds and blueberries. Delicious.

We noticed people with little paper fans, so headed in the direction they were coming from...we Discovered Myrtle Beach promo area with a big sand sculpture of President Obama. And met a sparkly lady named Loretta, from Las Vegas. She was a hoot! She had sequins everywhere, her shoes, her Obama tote, her hat, rhinestone pins galore, bedazzled from head to toe. Juanita Jean would love her!

A walk around the block led us to the giant bus station. We tried to make a loop around but there were barriers. We saw someone slide thru the barrier coming our way, so attempted to cross from our direction, but were politely stopped by a police officer. No riff raff from the bus station allowed in the security zone, so we had to walk around. So walk around we did, and ran into a 'man on the street' reporter with the Charlotte Observer, who interviewed us. We'll have to check out the paper tomorrow to see if we're in it!

It was getting to be time to head back for showers and to meet the bus for the welcome event, so we returned to the light rail platform.
A CNN reporter Suzanne Malveaux walked by. Then we saw a woman in a bright blue dress with long very curly hair heading our way. We looked at each other and at the same time said: Is that Debbie Wasserman Schultz? It most certainly was. And we'd just packed away our cameras. Not to worry, though, she'll be at our breakfast meeting Tuesday! We'll get our pictures then. 

The hotel was a buzz as we all came to the lobby to await our chariot to the Levine Museum of the New South, where we were to party with OR, CO and AZ delegates. We waited...and waited...and ordered drinks from the bar...a bus!...chugged our drinks...false alarm, wrong bus...went back to finish the ice...bus!...false alarm...
Sat and talked with fellow delegate Karen Russell, from Seattle, for a while. She's worked for the Obama campaign from the start. We had Boston in common. She was born there, went to Harvard Law...oh, and her dad was a rather famous basketball player for the
Celtics...still no bus...

So being the resourceful people we are, had to go to plan B. Some jumped in cabs. The rest of us savvy light rail users headed back to the station. It was a joyful trainload of WA delegates finally on their way.

The museum was lovely, the food wonderful, drinks of all kinds, and a very loud band. I ate shrimp, smoked salmon, sweet potato fries.

Then  I had the most amazing grits with shrimp and Andouille sauce served in martini glasses. What a hit!

 The bus was waiting for us on schedule to go home. Apparently the earlier buses had gotten stuck in a huge traffic jam and couldn't get to the hotels.We had a little wind down in the hotel bar, and got to bed at a decent hour. Six AM rolls around fast!

Sunday, September 2, 2012

On the First Part of the Journey...

I started writing this last night but fell asleep at the keyboard.

Getting here was half the fun. Leaving White Salmon after dinner, I got myself settled in to the Ramada in time for the second half of Daily Show and all of Colbert. Tried to go to sleep but the neighbors came in after 11 and scared me out of a deep sleep. I thought someone had broken into our house, I was that asleep. Heart rate back down, slept til the alarm went off at 3:30 am. Shuttle at 4, and the nice man at the desk was actually from NC...had hit the 6 month mark in Portland and was homesick.

The flight went to Houston, there was NO fresh coffee because the plane did not have any coffee pots. Oh, United, what has become of you? A 5:55 am flight and NO COFFEE???? No hot breakfast for purchase either. Just a ham and cheese sandwich and some nasty snack packs. The flight attendants did the best they could, with humor. Was glad I pounded down a large coffee and a muffin at the Coffee People stand in PDX. Tstorms in Houston (big surprise) meant delays getting in, so had to RUN for the next terminal, with the gate at the far end of the universe (of course) to catch the little plane to Charlotte. But I made it. And the folks at Charlotte airport were waiting for us all, with signs, smiles, young men taking our bags, and showing us to our buses, where I met up with Valerie and a few other WA delegates. Stomach really rumbling by now...thank God Valerie had a banana she had no plans to eat.

Our bus driver was on his first run of the hotel loop. He was not from Charlotte. So we helped him navigate with phones, gps and printed directions. He was a really good sport. I hope we helped him for his next run!

The welcome at the hotel couldn't have been warmer. People are so excited to be hosting this event. I settled in to the room, then went downstairs with a fellow delegate I'd met on the bus for some salad and a glass of wine. That blueberry muffin was long gone...When Tanisha, my roommate, arrived, we went down for a late night glass of wine to unwind before bed. Then lights out! We were both asleep in minutes.