The next morning, there was still no news as to the details of Obama’s visit. I decided to email a few people in attempts to get as much information as I could. Also, if he were indeed coming to town – I would want to be there if it were possible. I sent an email to 2 men Charlie worked with at AT&T – both very active in local democratic government/party. I also emailed The Racine and The Wisconsin Democratic Parties. Responses I received – no one knew anything. I was even forwarded an email from The Governor’s office stating they had no info whatsoever. That was on the 26th.
On June 28th, I finally received an email from one of the afore mentioned friend of Charlie‘s. The email contained forwarded information from a member of the White House Advance Team on how to offer to volunteer for…The Racine Town Hall w/ President Obama!! Immediately I clicked the link to her email and probably all giggly school girl like, I asked to be a volunteer and gave her my information. By this time, The Journal Times had already reported the Town Hall event and explained that it was free, but there were only 1000 tickets which were to be given out on a first come first serve basis the day before the event. The Town Hall was scheduled for Wednesday July 1st. Of course, I was planning on being in that line!!
The night before the tickets were to be distributed, I received an email from a member of the White House Staff informing me that Charlie and I were indeed on the volunteer list and instructions followed. The excitement began. An unfamiliar feeling these days, an emotion I have been lacking for much too long. I was happy, excited and actually looking forward to something…AND without constant worry.
I called my mom that night and mentioned that I would be trying to get tickets the next day. I didn’t even get a chance to mention I was volunteering. Anyway, so before I could even tell her I would be volunteering at the event she busted out some major attitude. My parents are pretty severe Republicans. I, in recent past, have even worried about possible Tea Party brain washing. So, no she wouldn’t be excited whatsoever about The President – who she claims is the worst EVER. Yes, ever. She said it. She doesn’t like him, I get it, I can live with it, fine. BUT…what I did not get and had a hard time living with was the fact that she said the following to me, “I am so embarrassed and disappointed that you would want tickets to see him.” Wow. I honestly didn’t expect that. My mom, more than anyone besides Charlie, knows what a mess I have been. She knows I have not been excited or super happy about something since I can even remember. She knows that and has commented on me having to do something about the issue. Well, this event came along – and too quickly to even react much – and did fix the issue, even if for just a few short days. Why would that alone not make my mother happy for me? I just didn’t – and still don’t – get it.
Tuesday June 30th the tickets to the Town Hall were to be handed out at Festival Hall, which is right along the lakefront. I knew the line would be massive. I had even heard some people were going to be camping out over night. We no longer needed the tickets for ourselves, but I felt so grateful to have that opportunity – I decided to wait in line for a friend. Besides, it kinda gave me a chance to be a part of the whole experience. The kids and I packed a couple folding chairs and headed down to the lake. My eyes popped out of my skull and landed near the jaw I had just dropped. The line was incredible. You could make out a long human-shaped string silhouetted by the sun rising over the Lake Michigan. I debated for a moment, trying to calculate the number of heads vs. the number of tickets. But what the heck, it was 8am and we were already down there…so to the back of the line we settled.
After a 4 hour wait and getting within like 20 feet of the door…they came out and announced the tickets were gone. Disappointed, but cordial and ruley, the line dispersed like water in a leaky, bummed out bucket.
That night Charlie and I were to go to the site of the Town Hall to be briefed on what jobs we would be performing and what was expected of us as volunteers. That is when we met Adam. Cute Adam J Adam was one of the members of the Advance Team. He was in charge of all press involvement. We (Charlie, His friend Ryan and me) volunteered to be on his team. We were assigned duties…asked a few questions and were on our way shortly after.
We had to be at the meeting site at 10am. So I made sure to get up early enough to get ready. Hair, make up, new dress. Little did I know, an allergy shit storm was about to reek havoc on my face. Again, later. Anyway, as I was trying to quickly finish up so we could drop the girls off at my sister in law’s, my mom called. I told her I was running late and she got super snarky with me and again expressed her basic disgust. I got upset and hung up. How dare she try to ruin the one truly happy day in so very long!!?? That is all I could think about. But only until I arrived at the site.
Charlie’s job was to guard the area on the balcony of Memorial Hall to make sure that only National News representatives with badges were entering. He had to direct local news outlets to their designated corner. I was lucky. I got the best job I think. I worked with another woman – whose name completely escapes me – she was very nice….worked for the Police Department and knew just about EVERYone in town! She must have had 20 people come up and talk to her – obvious acquaintances. Anyway, so the two of us got to sit outside the entrance and check in the press. We were seated at a table, it was about 72 degrees and sunny. Absolute perfect weather. Well, aside from the allergies which I will talk about later. So when a member of the press would arrive, they would have to stop at our table and check in – they had to be on the list. Then we would give them their “badge” and on they would go.
By the time The President arrived, my job was done and we were then able to go in and watch the speech. Before going up to the hall, I made the mistake of running to the bathroom. Well, I did have to pee…but that wasn’t the mistake. The mistake was looking in the mirror. And I knew it had to be bad. All morning long my eyes were burning and watering like a friggin flaming monsoon. So every other second I was wiping my eyes with tissue – cheap pilling tissue which left tissue dingle berries on my eyelashes. I never have had much use for waterproof make up. Its not like I ever sweat. And I never had allergy eye reactions before. I have been on zyrtec for about 10 years or so for seasonal allergies – which typically only came in the early spring and early fall. Now, it appears to be all year and instead of just headaches and sinus issues…now it has also hit my eyes. That day. That very day is when the allergens decided to invade my eyes. When I looked in the mirror, sunglasses now off, I was appalled. Can I say that again? APALLED. My face did not have one morsel of makeup on it. I do not ever even leave the house without make up let alone go to an event with over 1000 people, the President of the United States and Adam, the cute young White House guy. Ugh. It was gross, seriously. But I wore my sunglasses when I felt I could get away with it and just tried to hide my face the other times. It was certainly not a big deal in the whole scheme of things. It was not going to dent my day.
We stood there on the sidelines and watched (and took a million pictures). I have to admit that as much as I do support President Obama and am still happy I voted for him…I was not thrilled with the speech. Once the news broke that The President would be visiting Racine, the local paper’s blog was full of naysayers. The people who frequently post comments there typically appear to be conservative or Republican. So I was not surprised by the bashing tendencies of the posts. However, I was really hoping Obama would some how shut them up with some mind blowing speech and answers which were more than hopeful. Unfortunately, that was not the case. The question and answer part of the Town Hall Meeting was not in any way set up as many have insinuated. There was no assigned seating and The President chose whom to answer simply by pointing to risen hands. I think he answered 3 or 4 questions, the meeting seemed quite short. And the questions were very vague which ensued long winded responses from The President. It didn’t go over well with the press or the locals. But not because of anything he said or anything he did wrong specifically, but just because many were wondering what the big tada was all about – and whether it was worth it. A lot of people also seemed to enjoy mocking the fact that The President stopped at O&H Bakery (my lifetime favorite and the only one I will use) on the way to Memorial Hall to buy Kringle – which, if you are not aware, is a Danish treat with flaky buttery crust and about any filling you can imagine. Its sincerely delicious and what Racine is known for around the country. Many people thought is was a ridiculous photo op and waste of time. Wah wah wah. Personally, I just wish he had brought enough for everyone. I was starving!!
I do believe that President Obama faces straight up hatred – and has before he ever even entered office – in the media which disperses throughout the public. I feel that like no other recent President, he is disrespected, devalued and detested by many and for various reasons. Some reasons may be valid, some may simply be party based and others I sincerely believe to be despicable. Our President needs the support of the Congress and Senate in order to make any real positive change. Because of this, he needs – even more – the support of the people who vote for these congressmen and senators. So, since the conservative media is so dead set on destroying his Presidency regardless of the millions of bystanders caught in the wake – our President needs to basically go on another campaign tour. Is it ridiculous? Yes. Don’t even get me started on campaigning to begin with. But what choice does his administration really have at this time?
All and all, it was a pretty awesome day and I am very appreciative to have had the opportunity to participate!!