Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Article in the UDK!

Check out our article here in the University Daily Kansan!

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Day 8

On our last day, Marc and I woke up reasonably early (which was relatively late compared to when we had been waking up!) to pack our things and head to the coast! We said our goodbyes to our wonderful host family, and then set off to pick up Zach in Kingston again. With the help of his GPS once again, we headed to Newburyport, Massachusetts to see the ocean and get some lunch. We wound up along a port, which was pretty cute, but I had kind of been expecting beaches. Oh well, the water would have been far too cold to wade in. After Marc and I got a picture, the three of us headed back up towards the “downtown” of the city to try to find something local for lunch. It started raining, which I thought was pretty in tune with my preconceptions of Massachusetts. We stopped a woman who told us that Angela’s CafĂ© was fabulous, so we headed in that direction. I got fish and chips, which I thought was really good – I’m glad I got seafood while I was up there! After we finished up, we walked through the town for a few minutes, and then headed back to Kingston to say our goodbyes to Zach. From there, it was off to Salem to pick up Clarissa and to the airport in Manchester. Our flights were amazingly all on time again and we all got our luggage in KC. I can safely say that I’ve never been so happy to be back in Kansas again!

- Amanda

Day 7

Unfortunately, I’m updating this a little bit late, because, as expected, yesterday was beyond insane. We started out doing visibility on the highway corner bright and early in the morning, which was fun, because we teamed up with this amazing supporter who’s a big volunteer in the area. We’d worked with Fran several times before, but her energy at 7:30 in the morning on a highway corner was really infectious. She’s just wonderful because she’s so earnest and believes so strongly in Obama’s ability to really fix our nation. After a while, we headed to the Dunkin again to coffee up for the day and drove over to our HQ.

The higher ups in the campaign decided to shake things up for the day, which we weren’t all that happy about. We were just handing out door hangers, reminding people to get out and vote, which was pretty much ridiculous. I went out with Chelsea, the wonderful high schooler who had offered us her house to base our operations out of for the first few days we were in New Hampshire. She is so fabulous – she had skipped school for the day to help out Barack, even though she couldn’t even vote. She and I hit a bunch of houses around the area that she lived, which went well until the melting snow caused a little accident. Because it was so unusually warm for the area, all the snow that had fallen was melting into ice and mud. Lots and lots of mud. Thus, as I was heading back down a hill from one of the houses, I took two nasty falls down one little lane and wound up absolutely covered in mud and grass. Chelsea and I decided that I was too gross to walk up to houses and talk to people and it was just about time for lunch, so we headed back to HQ to sort out the mess of getting me new pants.

Marc and I finally headed back to Newton to change and get ready for the night, because we knew we would be traveling down to Nashua for the volunteer watch party. We changed then headed back to Brentwood, where our volunteer didn’t bring us lunch for the afternoon, so we headed to Bessie’s, which is this little greasy spoon truck stop sort of place. Apparently, the original Bessie had been abducted by aliens in the 70’s, but unfortunately, she didn’t work there anymore. The area has been fraught with UFO reporting since that time, with a book written sometime in the 70’s called “Incident at Exeter” – we totally want to check it out sometime. We had tons of onion rings and grease, which probably wasn’t the best idea before canvassing, but it was definitely delicious.

The afternoon was pretty much a waste of time, but we really had a great time anyways. Marc and I were sent out with Zach again to do more door hangers about houses we had already hit, so we broke up the afternoon by doing more visibility at polling places around the area. Visibility was fun, because we got to chat with Fran again, which is always fun. The three of us finally decided to call it quits and head for Nashua to the bar that the watch party was at. We stopped at Zach’s house to pick up his mom’s GPS device (so fun) and hit the road. Nashua turned out to be a really cute town – pretty small and filled with all sorts of local stores all down the main street. It was pretty hoppin, so we headed to the Peddler’s Daughter and got ourselves a table.

It was good that we got to the bar early, because it started to fill up fast! All sorts of people came in that had worked on the Obama campaign. Lots of college aged kids, but a lot of older people too. We chatted with a kid from New Mexico, which was pretty fun, as well as talking to several other kids from around the New Hampshire area. Unfortunately, as the results started to pour in right after 8, Hilary started to pull more and more ahead as the night went on. Every time the difference between Hilary and Obama would lessen, a huge cheer would go up through the crowd – it was pretty amazing to be a part of. When Hilary was finally given the check mark, everyone booed – I shared their sentiments. It was awesome watching Barack speak though – his speech was incredibly eloquent for a second place finish, especially compared to Hilary’s speech. The whole bar chanted “Yes we can!” after Barack finished – so cool.

A bunch of kids tried to head to another bar after interns started clearing out of the Peddler’s Daughter, so we headed over to Margarita’s, which turned out to be a failure when they wouldn’t let in kids under 21. The night wasn’t really going so well, so Marc, Zach and I decided to grab a donut at Dunkin and head home. Apparently, nothing at all could go right for us, because even the DD had closed down – not good! The drive home was pretty spooky too, because the air was really thick with fog – at times, we were driving about 5 mph because there was simply no visibility – talk about a gloomy night!

- Amanda

Monday, January 7, 2008

Day 6

Today started out with more visibility again – this time it was much warmer and a little humid, so it wasn’t unbearable to stand outside for an hour. We got a lot of honks and thumbs up and I only had one guy point a finger to his head and pretend to pull the trigger. Such is the like of a campaign worker… We stopped by the Dunkin’ again, which was hilarious, because they remembered us from the last time we were in. Good news, because we’ll be in there tomorrow too. Visibility is getting pretty important, with a lot of people saying that they won’t make their decision until the day of. That statement still seems ridiculous to me, because I just don’t know how a person in their right mind could do that, but oh well.

I spent the rest of the morning canvassing with a kid from around the area, Zach, which was really fun. He put in this awesome CD, so we at least had some good music to jam to as we hit up the senior population of our area. It went surprisingly well – we made a really good team. Zach got kudos because we were brave in the face of both strange seniors and attack Pekinese.

This afternoon, I went out with the state representative again. Somehow, the two of us wind up assigned to shanty town, New England every time, so I wasn’t about to go tromping off by myself anyways, so I guess it wasn’t all bad. At one point, we wound up way far back in this lake village with strange houses, some from corrugated steel, some pink trailers with seven sliding glass doors on the front. We did happen upon a little island on a lake, however, which was pretty cute. The word island was stretching it, but it was a peninsula, as it was surrounded by water on about 3.5 sides.

After making it back from that, we enjoyed more volunteer made lasagna, which was amazing tonight, and I again tried to eat my weight in coffee cake and lemon bars. I think I really needed some sugar energy after this afternoon though. I’m getting really run down again, and everyone around is getting pretty snippy, save for the wonderful young couple that is doing the volunteer coordinating. They’re absolutely wonderful – they came down from DC to stay with the husband’s parents for a week or two to help with the election. Our director made us come make phone calls for a while before she sent us to the Derry office, which we just tried to do as slowly as possible. Marc and I were just in bad moods from the day and we both hate phone calls anyways. Luckily, we watched some MSNBC for a while and swapped horror stories from the day (Some highlights: Marc was attacked by a donkey, I ran into a guy that was weeping blood, Marc ran into a guy with no eye, and one of our volunteers called a fellow volunteer Ted Nugent all day, even though the poor man’s name was Phil).

Tonight involved Marc and I getting sent to the Derry office to do door hangers, which was ridiculous for any and all reasons you could ever think of. We wound up in a trailer park outside of Derry with no one to direct us where to go. At that point of the night, I hated pretty much everyone that I had talked to within the past five days. Thus, we finally decided to screw it and headed home (Streets and Trips is a lifesaver…). All I’m focused on right now is getting through the next 24 hours…

- Amanda

Sunday, January 6, 2008

Day 5

Today has been more than interesting, starting out with the town hall event and ending up with more door to door. We got up and around in plenty of time this morning (or at least I did) and headed out for Exeter High School on Epping Road. Epping Road is not, however, located in the TOWN of Epping, as my illustrious driver was convinced. Once we arrived at the event, we were given very little instructions on where to go, what to do, etc. so our kids pretty much improvised. We signed up a few supporters for a while and then an advance person had us form a “human chain” to funnel people into the gym where Barack would be speaking from. It really was amazing how many people were there and how early they showed up to watch him speak. People were waiting there almost two hours before the doors opened, and when we finally had to close off the lobby, people waited for more than an hour in the 30 degree weather not complaining, as far as I could tell.

The event itself was amazing. Once we had funneled people in, I had to hold control of a door to make sure people didn’t get in and out so we could stay within the fire codes. Some people were pretty cranky with the other volunteers when they weren’t allowed in, but no one argued with me. Since Marc and I had been late, we weren’t given volunteer passes, but we were dressed nicely, so people assumed we were staff – it was fantastic. I suppose, with the minor exception of a South African woman who was mad because I couldn’t get her a moment alone with the Senator – she was pretty irritating and quite rude to me. Other than that, the crowd was pretty nice and not a single person in the event heckled the Senator (amazing for a political rally). I was laughing, because a few of the songs that were played were songs that were played at the Dole rallies that I had attended so many years ago – they put on one song that I can still picture Jack Kemp tossing around a football to. The speech was beyond incredible; Obama just has this innate ability to speak to every single person in the room like they are the only person in the room. He just says so many things that make so much sense to me and that I agree with so much. Phenomenal.

After the speech, people started clearing out while Obama took a few questions from the crowd, which was great. One guy did make a ridiculous “speech-question,” which I always find annoying, but other than that, people asked healthcare and education related questions. Education was an interesting topic because I feel it has been rather pushed aside in this election, but he covered it so well and really sold me on his plans. Our friend Ryan hadn’t ever seen Obama before, so he jumped ship on his volunteer duties and went to the front of the room (which I totally would of done had I been in his position) and got to shake Obama’s hand after the event, which was pretty cool. Him, his friend Anthony, Marc, and I went on a quick trip to Exeter for lunch after the event – we attempted to go to the Loaf and Ladle, a local sandwich and soup favourite, but we wound up going to Me & Ollies, which reminded me of a non-commercial Panara. I had this amazing turkey and Havarti sandwich – I want to go back! While we were there, I got a call from back at the office saying that the state rep that I had canvassed with yesterday was at the office and ready to go out again, so we hurried back so that I could take her out again.

We wound up aquiring another mid-50’s woman who is just this amazing woman of absolutely boundless energy (she was jogging quarter mile driveways so that she could maximize the number of houses she visited!). She’s just fantastic, because she believes so truly in what she’s doing, which really shows when she talks with people about Obama. The way the houses are laid out here, some are a quarter mile off the beaten path, house number 87 might be somehow next to house 75, and front doors probably won’t have a snow plowed path, so it’s pretty different than the neatly laid out neighborhoods we’re used to in Kansas. Additionally, to increase the difficulty factor by seven, we weren’t hitting every house, so we might stop at houses 1, 19, 20 and 32 on a street. What we wound up doing was probably hilarious to any wildlife watching the whole process – I would drop one woman off with the assignment to do one house, drop the second woman off to do two houses, pick up the first woman, drive her to house four, pick up the second woman and drive her to house five, etc – kind of like a gigantic whipstitch. It worked out really well though – we were able to cover a bunch of houses pretty quickly that way. Speaking of wildlife, I got to see a wild vole today – bet you’ve never heard of that before! (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vole)

Once we decided it was starting to get too dark to see the numbers on the houses (An additional challenge, because even though it is state law to have your house number displayed on your house and mailbox, NH really doesn’t feel like it has to comply – Live free or die!) we retired for the evening back to the headquarters, where we swapped stories while eating some dinner that a supporter had brought for us. (I think I’m singlehandedly polishing off a coffee cake that a supporter brought in yesterday.) One of our interns was attacked and bitten by a dog today! He wasn’t hurt, but I think all of us are going to be pretty careful from here on out (On that note, everyone in New Hampshire has a pet – mostly dogs, but we ran into a house today which had a total of 15+ pets! There are all sorts of pet stores and pet “spaws” around too…).

Marc and I called it an early night at 7 and headed back to Curriersville Ln here in Newton. This street is awesome, because it is the street that the old printmaking shop Currier and Ives was based on. Most of the old houses and barns that their prints are of are around this general area – it’s so chock full of history here.

- Amanda

Saturday, January 5, 2008

Day 4

Day 4

As a brief precursory note, I am typing this entry as Marc and I drive between houses here after the debates, simply to preserve my time at home for sleep!

Today has been a good day – although darling Marc woke up late and we made a quick wrong turn on the way to the office again, we did make it to the office in time to grab a canvassing packet. Off Marc and I went to a nearby town to walk door to door, talking to voters. Even though we were supposed to have a “short packet,” it took us about three hours to get through. I was exhausted, but I really did have a much better time than sitting in the office calling. All sorts of things happened, like Marc trying to send me alone to a house whose driveway housed a hearse CONTAINING A COFFIN. Needless to say, I didn’t make a single call alone after seeing that! We got Marc a picture with the grave of Josiah Bartlett, the second signature on the declaration of independence and the man whom the president on the West Wing was named after. Marc just had to stop so we could get a photo op with the grave (memorial stone?).

After a quick lunch break at Lindy’s country store again, the other canvassers were sent off and I worked for a while making signs for publicity. After a while, a state representative stopped by wanting to canvas who needed a getaway driver – I volunteered on the condition that I would not be leaving the car, so I wouldn’t wear myself out like I did this morning. She handed me the keys to “the only ghettomobile in White Hampshire” which was this awesome Buick with mirrors that were a different colour than the car. We headed off to this lake area that had the state’s narrowest roads (I learned that sometimes a three point turn sometimes has to be a seven, eight, or nine point turn… think Austin Powers stuck in the hallway…). After about two hours of that, we finally called it quits at dark. (The photo is of the last glimpse of sun over one of the littler lakes) Around here, there are no street lights, and on a night without a moon, there’s not a light in sight. As we headed back into town, we did see many of the houses with a single candle light in each window – so pretty.

Tonight, we were able to recuperate with food from volunteers and by watching the debates at the house of a supporter. (The photo is of me with Orack Barama, their Obama Penguin) The amazing thing we are seeing here is how much we are treated like family by these people we’ve known for two days. Now granted, we are spending 12-15 hour days with everyone, but it really has been wonderful to experience. We ate pizza tonight and sat around and really recuperated from the day by watching the candidates debate tonight at the house. It was really the best time I had had since I arrived here. I cannot wait for the town hall event tomorrow at a local high school. We’ll be staffing the event (who knows what that means though) and we’ll definitely get to see the Senator speak at the event – so cool.

- Amanda

Day 3 (A little late - sorry!)

Day 3

This morning started out with not the brightest idea we’ve ever had: campaign exposure on the side of the road on a New Hampshire morning. It was unbelievably cold, but it was really wonderful to see so many people honking, waving, and giving us thumbs up. I felt like the reception was amazing, which was a nice change of pace. It was so cold that I couldn’t feel my hands after about five minutes, but I figured out quickly how to keep moving and stay in the sun so I stayed a bit warmer. After about 30 minutes, we packed it in an visited one of the about one hundred Dunkin’ Donuts that is around this area (they’re everywhere – it’s amazing!) for some hot coffee.

We moved shop to another location this morning to better coordinate with volunteers that are from the community. We have people making phone calls and canvassing, which is wonderful to see. From what I can tell, the kids that went out door to door today had an awesome experience, just talking to voters and getting a better feel for the voter sentiment towards our candidate.

As a side note, this last photo shows all the clothing that was piled on under the coat for warmth this morning - its still not a complete showing!

Marc and I grabbed two of the other interns this evening once they were finished canvassing and we headed out to Exeter, a town close by to where we were, for some actual dinner. We wound up at a Asian restaurant because one of the girls wanted us to bring her back some edmame. The dinner was delicious and we definitely had some left over for later, which is fantastic. We got to call it an early night, so I’ll keep this short so that I can maybe get in a full night’s sleep – keep your fingers crossed for me!

- Amanda