• by emilie
This was certainly a birthday I won't soon forget! No, I don't have any funny April Fool's pranks to share, but rather that I was one of the lucky 2,000 or so who got to hear our president speak today in Portland!
If you follow this blog, you'll know that I've been actively involved with the health care reform debate and what it means for small business owners. So when it was announced last week that President Obama would be visiting our city this week, and specifically today- my birthday!- I was ELATED!!
See, I've been missing my DC newspaper days more than usual lately, typical at this time of year because truly, there is no better place than Washington to experience spring. Tho it was a little strange to be a common citizen at today's event in Portland and not have premium press access, it still felt good to be in the political mix (And I did have the chance to spot some of my old press pals from days covering events at the White House and Capitol Hill).
J stood in line for tickets for four hours in the chilly rain yesterday. Today, I assumed line duty to claim our seats in very different weather- beautiful 70 degree sunshine- and I actually have a sunburn to show for my efforts! I enjoyed meeting and chatting with those in line around me, shaking hands with candidates (including a hug from my fave for governor, Rosa Scarcelli) and was later sweetly surprised by a visit from my employees Erin and Christina who showed up with a cupcake and candle to wish me a Happy Birthday. So very thoughtful! And all the while, there was an exciting electricity abounding.
Once inside, I was reminded of how much it stinks to be 5'4" as we were in a standing-room only section. But it didn't really matter once Obama arrived as we all went wild regardless of position. I got a bit choked up, wrapped up in the emotion of the moment, and proud of my little city for its hard work on health care reform. I listened, I cheered, I soaked it all in. It went by much too fast. And when it was over, as we watched his motorcade speed away toward the airport outside, I told J I wasn't sure that the journalism bug was completely tapped from my system just yet. And he totally understood.
At my grandfather's birthday party last weekend, my Nana gave me a handful of folders she had been collecting over the years of various newspaper clippings and such, including emails from when I was a photographer at USA Today (gulp, time flies!) 10 years ago. The one I sent after an exclusive behind-the-scenes peek at the campaign trail with Al Gore, my favorite assignment of all time, stood out on this particular day:
Thanks for coming to Portland, Mr. President, and for making this one of my most memorable birthdays ever. And, hey, if you have any openings on your photo staff, have your people call my people. There's something on my To Do list I still have yet to tackle. ;)
Coverage of today's event is on CNN.com here and MPBN here, Portland Press Herald images can be seen here, and watch a video of Obama's full speech here.
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