Friday, August 29, 2008
Yes We Can!
We are sitting in the Portland airport waiting to go on to Vancouver. I just love airports with free wi-fi!
Yesterday was another amazing day and a very long and full one, too. When we got back to the hotel, I downloaded photos and that was about all I got done. Just too tired! Then we had to get up, return our rental car and get to the Denver airport this morning. We are typically early so I figured I would have time to blog at the airport, along with getting some breakfast since we left the hotel in a bit of a hurry. Everyone on the rental car shuttle was talking about how the airport would be packed with people from the Convention and also because it's Labor Day weekend. We hadn't thought about any of that! Of course, our bags started out overweight in Dutch Harbor and we have added more stuff. We repacked and rearranged the best we could; luckily I was given a huge Whole Foods recycled plastic tote bag so we loaded it up as well. We weighed our suitcases on the curb at Delta (since Alaska Air has no curbside check in here); one was 47 and the other was 51 pounds. So we moved some stuff and went too far, leaving one at 53 pounds and had to try again. Ended up with 49 and 49.5 when we got to Alaska Air check-in, hurray. Security was very busy and I had to go through an extra special device that blew air onto me to make sure I wasn't showing any evidence of explosives. Denver airport is complicated; we had to ride two different trains to get to our gate. Our plan was to find the gate, make sure we were good to go, and then eat breakfast. We arrived at Gate 32 with a sudden realization that it was boarding--well, not exactly that it was boarding but that it had BOARDED and they were about finished. The plane was supposed to leave at 11:46 AM but they had apparently bumped it up to 11 AM and we were unaware. (Note to selves: check departure times online in case there are any changes!) So there went the good idea of breakfast, blogging, and finishing up Convention postcards to mail. Thank goodness we did not leave the hotel any later, encounter any major traffic, or wait in the Security lines any longer. Or any other of many possible scenarios to set us off course.
Our seatmate was a really cool woman from Portland who had been to Denver making a documentary called "Papers," about undocumented teenagers. We had some good conversation and exchanged info so we can stay in touch. We invited her to Dutch Harbor to do her next documentary and she invited us to call her next time we are in Portland so we can go out to a good restaurant for dinner. :)
We also met another independent filmmaker on the shuttle; his project is called "Police State Blues."
Back to yesterday:
I went to my delegate breakfast which took even longer than usual. Rich and I were going to meet at 9 and go downtown but I didn't get back to the room till 10! We had to take some group photos, for one thing. Finally got on the Light Rail and went to 16th Street in search of protests and postcards. We walked and walked and walked, asked several police officers where the protesters were and were sent in several directions with not much luck. We saw a big museum on wheels exhibiting the failures of the Bush Administration, some Falun Gong activists silently standing witness to their oppression in China, and several Christians damning us all to hell. We asked a few people on the street about protests and were told "it's been really quiet today." I was bummed. My people left without me!
So we went to the Tattered Cover bookstore, which is a neat place (I'd been there once before with Sarah and Miles), walked the streets, took more photos, had some lunch, and then struck out for Invesco Field. We were told to be there "early," and the doors were opening at 1. It was about 2:30 when we arrived at the end of the line, at the back of a parking lot, across the street, under the overpass, across the highway from Invesco Field. The sun was beating down on us (hot, but felt good to me!), the line was barely moving, but people were friendly and in good spirits and it didn't seem like the worst thing in the world to be doing on a Thursday afternoon. Eventually, we reached the end of the parking lot and merged with another group coming from the left. Looking around, we could see lines in several directions, all converging on the field. It was pretty amazing. All in all, it only took us 50 minutes to get from start to finish and enter the stadium. We still had 4 1/2 hours till Obama's speech! Rich was stuck on the 5th level with the rest of the Alaska guests so I went up there with them for awhile and we walked around the upper level and killed some time. Eventually I got paranoid that I should get down to the floor before I had some trouble getting in. Although the alternates had to sit in the 3rd tier in the Pepsi Center through the week, we were all allowed to sit with our delegations on the floor at Invesco! Sweet! I was walking behind Jesse Jackson at one point on my way to the AK delegation, but he was talking with people and had others around him so I didn't say anything. :)
Alaska was toward the back left facing the stage. North Carolina was behind us and they were quite fired up, starting chants regularly, dancing, and generally having a great time. Everyone was friendly and chatty and it was fun getting to know people from all over the place. Of course, everyone is always very interested in Alaska and we had a good time filling them in and answering their questions. In the evening, we had speeches from lots of folks--ordinary citizens from around the country, including some lifelong Republicans who are changing their affiliation (one great line from a guy named Barney Smith--paraphrasing, but something like "I want a country that is more concerned about the Barney Smiths than the Smith Barneys." He got a chant of "Barney, Barney, Barney" as he was finishing up!), congresspeople, government officials, military generals, Rev. Bernice King, Martin Luther King III (it was the 45th anniversary of the famous "I Have a Dream" speech), Al Gore, Joe Biden and more. Will.i.am from the Black Eyed Peas sang, Sheryl Crow sang, Stevie Wonder sang, Bruce Springsteen did not sing. :(
There was so much energy in the room when Barack Obama finally took the stage! I imagine most of you saw his speech or parts of it in replay but I have to say that being there was amazing. The man definitely has charisma, but not only that, he has such an ability to connect with people and to touch that part of ourselves that really does want to reach for a new and better future. He talked about having a common purpose and the ideal of creating a society where all people have the same opportunities. Who can argue with that? I just don't get why some people seem to think he is so radical or out of touch. Isn't that what most, if not all, of us want for ourselves, our kids, our grandkids? It seems like such a simple thing and yet so hard to achieve. For me, seeing an African American being nominated for president after I spent some of my childhood in Georgia where the water fountains in the corner drugstore were still labeled "whites only," it seems like we have crossed a hurdle I was not sure we would cross in my lifetime. But, of course, it is not about his race as much as it is about any person of either gender or race being able to tap into that sense of common good and common purpose so that all of our children will have a better life.
Our plane is about to board so I will have to write more and post photos from Vancouver. Love to all for now!