Is anyone else ugly crying this year?

OK here it is – virtual “talk” therapy.  I can’t stop crying lately – I mean, at the drop of a hat, ugly cry – crying!  2017 has sucked.  Didn’t we say all of this back in 2013?

First, my grandfather passed away – he was hands down my biggest (ok, & oldest!) cheerleader from way back and until the end.  Terribly sad.  On my dad’s birthday, and just 3 days after my 40th.  I got 40 great years with Grandpa and he lived to see 90.  But still…heartbreaking.

Then, my dear Aunt Betty (Grandpa’s only sister) passed away just two months and three days later.  It’s like they were besties in real life and wanted to be together in heaven, too.  She was with me and by my side my whole life and thru every hospitalization, so it was only fair that I stuck with her til the end.  Weird how things work.

Now, Jim Vance has passed as of this weekend.  Saturday morning, first thing over coffee, breaking news alert, terrible.  Such a sad hard way to start the weekend.  It’s like time stopped and we had to keep asking “Really?  For Real?  Jim Vance died?  Really?”

I am forced to agree with his colleague Pat Collins here when I say, “I thought he’d never die!”  Grrrrr.

It takes me right back to my dear Great-Grandmother’s living room (Ma, Grandpa & Aunt Betty’s mom).  These were days before the remote and at 6 p.m. sharp it was time to change the channel to “Jim and Doreen” on the TV on the cart in the corner of the living room.  You know, the safe place at your great-grandmother’s house where all of the games and toys are safely tucked underneath.  I miss her terribly, too.  She would hate to have to have seen her kids struggle at the end of their lives like they did, BUT she was also a HUGE (not to quote 45 or anything) fan of Jim Vance.  She lived a stone’s throw from the NBC4 studios and would call in if a typo appeared (ahem!) or if a hair was out of place or an outfit clashed.  She, too, would hate that Jim Vance is no longer on the airwaves. 

I feel as though it’s an ultimate “over”.  We watched him together, we talked about all of the NBC family on our first date.  Ma wasn’t at my wedding. It’s literally like the end of an era.  So many good ones gone.

Jim Vance was welcomed into any and every home I spent dinnertime in growing up.  Our house, Ma’s house, Grandpa’s House, Aunt Betty’s house, and now …my marital home.  Just doesn’t seem real.

I mean to say – we love you Jim Handly, we are glad you’re there, Leon Harris, and Doreen, you’re an amazing woman to have gone live on the air at 6:00 that Saturday night.  I cried the whole 30 minutes.  Jim was an amazing man and is watching over you, and all of NBC Washington & D.C. always.  I delivered a bouquet with my mom to the NBC Studio Sunday morning and stated they were for you and hope they brought at least a little bit of a smile.

Enjoy the ride, Jim Vance as we’ve enjoyed having you in our lives!

With Love & Gratitude,

Just lil ole Lauren, on behalf of all of Washington

Fave clips of Jim compilations thus far, also difficult, as there are so many…

Jim & George:
http://www.nbcwashington.com/news/local/Jim-Vance-Laughs-as-Model-Falls-on-Runway_Washington-DC-263327011.html

Nationals Honor Vance:
http://www.nbcwashington.com/news/local/National-Honor-Jim-Vance-With-Moment-of-Silence_Washington-DC-436612493.html

Barbara Harrison Remembers:
http://www.nbcwashington.com/news/local/Barbara-Harrison-on-Jim-Vances-Legacy-in-DC_Washington-DC-436387733.html?t=6

Vance’s Last Story:
http://www.nbcwashington.com/news/local/Jim-Vances-Final-Story-Inside-the-NMAAHC_Washington-DC-436391343.html?t=2

 

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Happy Heart Month!

Pretty sure we can all agree that January was full of Inaugural festivities, quibbles, rants and definitely some alternative facts.  But beyond that, there was the day after which was one for the history (ahem, her-story) books as so many of us participated in the Women’s March on Washington.  It was not necessarily a march, but more of a mass amount of women showing up with creative signs, catchy chants, a crystal clear crowd, and several pink pussy hats for what turned out to definitely be something truly inspiring!

This rowdy crowd of ladies (complete with a photo bomber, the photographer’s wife, perhaps?) was very fun to share the day with, and every day since doing various outreach by email, twitter, facebooking, calling and mailing.  We hailed from Virginia, Maryland, New York, Illinois and Orlando, Florida to get city specific!  We started with breakfast with the Florida delegation at the Library of Congress and were pep-rallied with “We Will Not Go Back” chants from Senator Bill Nelson, Congresswomen Debbie Wasserman Schultz, my sister’s, younger than I, Congresswoman Stephanie Murphy & Val Demings.  Maryland’s own Steny Hoyer even made a rousing speech in a pink scarf!  It was an invigorating morning!  Then…we marched.  Or rather, shuffled. 

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Pics from The March are all here!

But now it’s February and the man who wears cheeto colored foundation has gotten me about as down as I think I can get on life, so I’m shifting focus!

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HAPPY HEART MONTH!

Why is it that the shortest month of the year gets devoted to the most important part of our bodies?  I digress, see, I’m about through being perplexed by all of these questions.

So begins the I am #1in100 campaign raising awareness about Congenital Heart Disease as an issue belonging on the forefront to those of you who know and love me.  


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Born with a broken heart…

 

A Quick Wrap-Up of 2016!

Those of you who know us and read my blog may know most of this, but for those of you who just want a fancy piece of paper to read by the fire in your most comfy winter socks, here’s a quick run-down of my (ooops, our) farewell to 2016. 

In May, Ja & I went on our honeymoon to London, Windsor and Nottingham.  It was a jam-packed & fun-filled few days.  We thoroughly enjoyed every minute and totally spoiled ourselves. #BetterLondonThanNever Click for pictures here.  

In June, I road-tripped to a little slice of heaven, right here on the East Coast: Bald Head Island. I met up with friends from Texas and crashed their family vacation for a few days and nights and it was great to see them all and play in the sand!

bhi

July ended quickly with a lot of activity.  Thanks to NBC4’s promo on the DC Animal Welfare League’s Clear the Shelters weekend, we found ourselves an already TV-famous four-legged friend.  His name fits as he is a complete mix of shar-pei, basset hound and something else …or a few somethings, Rhino!  #Rhino2016

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Rhino bonded with Ja for a few days while I headed to Philadelphia to volunteer as a suite bouncer at the Democratic National Convention.  I worked hard, made new friends, saw old friends and most importantly:  witnessed a lot of history up close!  I’ll leave it at that, you can read this blog for wayyyy more details and pictures!

We took in a lot of Washington Nationals (NLDS Champions!) baseball, headed to Edisto Beach for a week, saw Molly turn 10 and even built an almost life-sized Tower Bridge out of Legos!  

All in all, life is good, but bring on 2017 already!!!

For the Facebook official year-in-review you can click here!  Fun Times!

 

I Can’t Put it Into Words, but…I’ll try

I feel like I’ve read it all.

I haven’t.

I feel like I’ve felt this all before.

I have.

Folks, we’ve been here before. We’ll be here again. History repeats itself.  We were “with her” and we are “stronger together” as a result. We just didn’t chant that as frequently or with such fervor as they chanted “lock her up!”

But the facts are the facts: feet on the street win elections. We should have done more. We assumed minds were made up so we ignored middle America. You cannot win with the seaboards alone, though 77 electoral votes in the West Coast were worth staying up for.

There were carbon copy flashbacks of Election Night 2000. Remember “Sore Loserman”? What’s old is new again.  We were counting down the days “until we win” while Ralph Nader’s shit show paraded back and forth in front of our Nashville HQ.

We did all we could until it was “return watch party” time.

And it got later, and later, and later.

The stage was set, the balloons ready to fall from the ceiling, and then…it got later, and an older man with not quite a full head of hair came out INSTEAD of our candidate, and the woman we had been with during the entire campaign, did not.  Remember Warren Christopher?  There was no real end to that night. Either night.  But in 2000, the recounts were underway.

After all that time and singular focus, you throw in the towel, you go to sleep, you wake up and POW!, you find yourself in a different world where the one with the most votes is NOT declared the winner.  Again.

We live in a democracy. It was a real-life (long & drawn out) episode of Survivor (or the Bachelor, or however best you can relate), someone gets voted off the island and not handed a rose. There was only going to be one winner. But for the sake of SO many, and as I had wished it in 2000, I wished it had been HER.

My lucky big-city-livin’ brother was IN the Javits Center in the heart of the excitement and energy….until it wasn’t anymore. When I asked if he got any pictures he gave me a quick reply and I wished I could have eaten my words.

“You know what I got last night? I watched a Muslim man writhe in agony on the floor in front of me. I saw a woman take off her keffiyeh and throw it in the trash.”  

I cried when I woke up and I cried again when I heard the news and time stood still. This is real. This result means so much and so many different things to so many.

Kindness & love, people!  You just never know what Tuesday meant to so many lives around us. Start talking to people. Everyone. This is an all too divided nation and it needn’t be.

I wish I had answers. Protests and riots are not the answer. We should each strive to be our better selves and hope our new president and our fellow citizens will learn to love their neighbor.

Onward!

Some articles that meant something and that I wanted to share.

Forget Canada, Stay and Fight for American Democracy

http://nymag.com/daily/intelligencer/2016/11/forget-canada-stay-and-fight-for-american-democracy.html?mid=facebook_nymag

Finish Your Ugly-Crying: Here’s What Comes Next

http://nymag.com/thecut/2016/11/finish-your-ugly-crying-heres-what-comes-next.html

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I’d be remiss if I didn’t thank our gracious hostesses with the mostest, we did have a lot of fun for a while and did punch two fists into the air when we won Virginia!  Thanks, T & L

 

Teachable Moment

Those who know and love me know a teacher I am not, but those same folks never thought I’d sport the title of “step-mom” either, but alas – as a step-mom today I spied with my little eyes a teachable moment and went for it … all the way & all in!

We went as a family to vote early at the local rec center. Having already made mine count by voting absentee, I stood in the periphery and watched the process. Technical difficulties and a minuscule tear in page two (yes, the ballot is front and back of two legal sheets of paper) made someone have to go “re do” his ballot and so the youngest and I stood together between the scanner and the door.

A family of four, clearly first time voters, placed their ballots into the scanner one page at a time and the poll worker stood beside ensuring that they saw the flag, meaning their ballot was cast and counted. I froze, thankful for what I was, what we were, witnessing.

After receiving their stickers, the voters cooed over how cute she was in her cheer uniform and hot pink breast cancer awareness hair ribbon. Once they walked out I leaned right in between her cheek and shoulder and whispered in her ear:

“Do you notice anything about what is happening?”

“Yeah, they’re voting for Hillary!” She proclaims.

“Shhhh! No, not that, what else?”

“No. I don’t notice anything else?!” (Like, “what’s wrong with you, yes they are?!”)

“What do you notice about that nice man next to the machine?”

“He’s tall?!” (Like, “where are you going with this?!”)

“What else?”

“He’s brown?” I personally noticed his J. Hopkins name tag, but ok.

“What’s he saying to the people?”

“There you go (handing out the coveted “I Voted!” sticker) and thank you!”

Exactly.

And there it was – – – I should have teared up, but instead I just said:

“Not that long ago people like him didn’t get to vote, and now he’s thanking all of these people for voting” – and she stops me excitedly, “for a woman!?!”

YES!

Whew! Poor thing thinks Hillary is the only thing on that two page, double sided legal sized ballot! I’ll take it!

Personally, I wanted to know that everything we discussed sank in so once her dad finished she says, “Dad, guess what I know about that brown man?!”

OK -let’s leave! Now.

“In the olden days…” she began.

I had said “not that long ago” but, ok, she’s 9 3/4!

Teachable. 

My history major and women’s studies minor heart is happy today. More on the ticker in the next post.

#GetOutTheVote #IWillVote #MarylandWillVote #VoteEarly #EveryVoteCounts #StrongerTogether

 

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New Friends & Shattered Glass!

 

(Author’s Note:  This is Part 2 of 2.  Read Part 1 here)

Well, I definitely made some new friends and I certainly watched some glass ceilings come down in a bajillion pieces and it was all worth it!  To see my Senator, Barbara Mikulski take the stage and be recognized as the first woman into the US Senate (sadly retiring), and to watch my former Commonwealth’s Governor, who turned into a Senator, and who is now Hillary Clinton’s Vice Presidential running-mate, Tim Kaine, and be in the same “room” with them and 50,000 other people was incredible.  That’s so not the word, but I can’t find the right one just yet, either!

Wednesday evening, I was moved from my post in Suite 2 to Suite 19, still on the balcony, but Wednesday night was for the record books in terms of exciting nights of my life!  Our guests in suite 19 were just some of the American people who have seen the worst in America.  Luckily, they see the best in Hillary and came and spoke as amazing surrogates.

Angela Bassett introduced two women who were in Charleston’s Emanuel AME Church on that fateful night at Bible study.  Grief into action.  Say their names. Felicia Sanders and Polly Sheppard and their husbands were in Suite 19 for the evening. I would like to think my teammates and I served up some Southern hospitality in the City of Brotherly Love for them!

Tyrone Sanders, after his wife finished her remarks, said to my friend, Jennifer, who was in the suite with us, “I was proud of her on that day, and I’m proud of her now.  I could have lost 3 family members that day.”  Gut-wrenching!  He was amazing in his lavender shirt which he told us he wears for his son.

Tyrone & LSR

Tyrone Sanders & Lauren

Jamie Dorff, who married the boy she grew up with when she was 21, lost her husband, Pat in 2004 in Iraq.  Jamie and her daughter, Brissa, were in our suite before, during and after Jamie’s speech.  To sit (ok, I was standing the entire time!) and watch Brissa watch her mom on that podium, that world’s stage, and just bawl crying was something that will rock my world for a while.  To get that up-close with the people who’ve seen and felt the worst is heart-grabbing.

Cap off Wednesday night with getting onto the elevator with Christine Leinonen and her only son’s friends as they make their way down and out of the Wells Fargo Center, where she had received a standing ovation and 38 seconds of applause mid-speech.  Honestly, really?  Is this happening?  I couldn’t’ stop myself.  I had to say something to her and while I wasn’t a blubbering idiot, I honestly don’t remember what I said, but she touched my forearm and said, “I did it for you, and I hope you never experience anything like it.”  She reiterated that the outpouring of love from Orlando and this country has been and continues to be amazing.  I didn’t add that my fabulous husband donated blood at my suggestion after seeing so many in line the next morning, but he did!

I had been joined by friends in Suite 19 and even made new ones.  The world is a small place.  A McEnearney agent and friend, Brett West, who volunteered on the floor with the Vermont Delegation, (lucky him!) brought a friend with him to Suite 19 on Wednesday evening and I was very happy to play hostess to them and witness our President’s speech along with them and all the rest! He didn’t bring Ben, he was just a crasher!

Brett & LSR

Brett West & Lauren

Ben crashed too

Ben crashes Suite 19!

Brett M-

Brett watching Barack!

Peter Newbold, a friend from Alexandria and the Electoral Board there, (since moved to Seattle) was hosting and assisting with the speakers and getting them from suite to podium.  It was like no time had passed when he walked into 19 with them.  Just good Alexandrians doing good!  What could be better?! 

Peter & LSR

Peter Newbold & Lauren

I’ll tell you what’s better, the Secret Service Officer who was “on duty” from as high up as we were, but who was still willing to take a pic (zoom & no zoom) of Barack speaking at the podium! 


Thursday I didn’t have volunteering duties, so I hung out around the Pennsylvania Convention Center for a bit, bought some campaign paraphernalia, saw Reverend Jesse L. Jackson, Sr. & had lunch with my favorite Senator from the Commonwealth of Virginia, the Honorable Adam P. Ebbin!  You know – a typical day! 

Hard to see the fun week come to an end, but I wanted to be home with my mother to watch Chelsea introduce hers and witness HERSTORY with my mom, who, of course, shed a tear or two watching!

watchin w mom

Ready!

There are lots of good people in the world, folks!

Happy August, Make It Count!

 

99 Days!

This time last week I was fretting and packing and so excited to be heading to sleep only to wake up early and take the first train to Philadelphia!  Tonight, I go to sleep knowing that when I wake up there are just 99 days left until November 8, 2016.  99 days left to work, sweat, knock and call and get out the vote for the first female nominee for President of these United States.  A Democrat.  A Clinton.  A Female!  So so so exciting.  What a great time to be alive!

This past week’s experiences cannot be put into words.  I witnessed and was a part of so much history.  It was an amazing few days in the “City of Brotherly Love” & “America’s First City” celebrating history (my major) and women’s studies (my minor).  I wore my acorn & oak leaf necklace as a tribute to Elon!  (Long Live Elon!)  I wore my great grandmother’s engagement ring to keep her with me at all times, and a bracelet from my mother for the same reason.  Truly an exceptional few days!  I wouldn’t have been there without those women, Elon & EMILY’s List, where I interned my senior year of college.  Yes, that was the Spring of 2000, and my springboard on into the National Presidential Campaign trail that took me thru to Nashville, TN and the Gore Lieberman campaign where America originally (most recently) learned about the 3rd party candidate debacle that I hope does not rear its ugly head into Election Day & Night, November 8 of 2016!

You see, I connected (thank you, Mark Zuckerberg & Facebook) with my mentor, boss lady, official badass & Emerge Wisconsin’s Woman of the Year award winner, The Great Heather Colburn, and landed a volunteer gig with the Democratic National Convention Committee.  It only took a few days and an email to which I relied “Deal. Me. In” and, voila, I was tasked to serve as a “Suite Access Volunteer” and just get myself to Philly & find a place to sleep!  Thank you to both AirBnB.com and Amtrak, I was set in a matter of hours!

Monday afternoon I met up with my team (plenty early, of course, because you know I didn’t want to be late or miss a thing!) and became fast friends with several wonderful people and lowly volunteers lucky enough to be given the privilege to serve and be handed credentials not only to the Wells Fargo Center, but to club & balcony levels, too! 

Ironically enough, not one person (ok some fellow volunteers & some not-so-volunteers, but staffers) came into my suite on Monday night.  But to be parallel with the balloons suspended from the rafters was definitely a breath-taking experience.  It sounds totally cliché, but as soon as I saw the balloons I was taken back to Boston (2004) & Los Angeles (2000) instantly, where I had been in similar seats to witness history of a different kind.

So, yes, I was there to watch and listen to Michelle Obama as she exuded nothing but pure passion for this great nation and pride in her daughters, never mind how much she pumped up the crowd!  And I was there on my feet screaming and clapping when Cory Booker told us to “Rise Together!”

Tuesday evening, I was able to enjoy a few more folks in the suite to which I was assigned, but still not many, so therefore I was able to listen as every state cast its votes and Bernie Sanders handed the nomination off to Hillary Rodham Clinton!  I took a video. I’ll upload it soon.  It was terrific to witness.

Then, I was calmly able to focus on every word Bill Clinton spoke about his love affair with “a girl” he met in the Spring of 1971.

But right this minute I’m going to bed.  Sorry – more tomorrow!

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