Guest Bloggers… My parents!

Ok, I know it’s a little early to be slacking off the blog and handing the reins over to someone else, but my awesome parents went to Charlotte, N.C. to participate in our democracy and wrote a bit about their adventures in politics.  Their words below touch on some of the highlights of their experience.

Their hard work and dedication, combined with that of tens of thousands of others brought about the results we have seen this week.  Many glass ceilings broken through, some hope restored and our fine President able to get back to work.

The happy couple on the convention floor.


Notes from the 2012 Democratic convention

By Susan & Martin Heyman (delegate & alternate)

It was, without a doubt, one of the most hectic and exhausting weeks of our lives. John Walsh did a terrific job organizing, to the minute, both the program and the coordination of our delegation. We awoke every morning at 7am for our Massachusetts Delegation breakfast meetings with a terrific group of speakers such as Governor Michael Dukakis, the Rev. Jesse Jackson, and Senator John Kerry, who gave us a real inside scoop on his role as chairman of the Senate budget committee during negotiations on the debt ceiling impasse.  After breakfast we would head immediately to the convention center about 3 blocks away to attend our choice of 3 to 5 caucus meetings from 10am to noon. We then had a second and third round of caucuses from noon to 2 and 2 to 4, all while trying to squeeze in some lunch. Here is a sample of the caucus meetings: African Americans; Hispanics; Ethnic Council, Native American Council; Women’s Caucus; Youth Council; Disability; Veterans & military families; LGBT caucus; Senior council; Small Business; Rural Council, just to name a few.

From 4pm to closing around 11pm we were on the floor for the official program, the events you might have seen on TV. And it was a wonderful show…we especially loved President Clinton’s brilliant speech and the performance by the Foo Fighters, much to our daughter’s delight.

Then the receptions and partying began around midnight, carried on until the wee hours, were followed by a few hours sleep and we were on to the next day.

Charlotte was very receptive and the people very kind and helpful, they seemed to enjoy having this tumult in their city, where 40% of the downtown streets were blocked off and police and firefighters from all over the state patrolled all day and night. Traffic was rerouted and often at a standstill but they seemed to take all in stride.


We discovered the whole country loves Massachusetts. They admire our politics and our politicians, past and present (including our current governor), and they loved Elizabeth Warren and committed donations to her campaign. . During the screening of a film about Ted Kennedy eyes were wet all over the arena. They also admire our health care program, and our education system. Everyone seemed to be saying that the seat formerly held by Kennedy should continue to be a high profile progressive seat and not be held by a follower like Scott Brown.

We celebrated the role of women all week and they were fabulous: Debbie Wasserman-Scultz, Elizabeth Warren, Michelle Obama, Dr. Jill Biden, Jennifer Granholm, Sandra Fluke, the women of the U.S. Senate, the women of the U.S. House of Representatives, Nuns on the Bus, Gabby Giffords, Donna Brazill, and the list goes on and on.

It was a great opportunity for us to be able to sit and converse informally with important political figures, to whom we(one)could(can) not usually get (gain) toaccess. and that certainly gave us a sense of some importance, but our real take away from the whole week was one of great inclusion, participation and warmth; everyone seemed to be hugging each other. We asked an MSNBC columnist to compare the two conventions. He said we could not quote him, but the Democrats were having much more fun and so was he.


Nature’s Many Faces

Yesterday my daughter discovered what her new rubber boots were for.  While walking Betsy at the creek, she tromped through a puddle and found that her feet were still dry and that a delightful splashing sound accompanied each step.  Her face read like a book, first recognition, then understanding, then realization of the fun that could be had. That small, murky puddle may as well have been the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow to Amelia as she proceeded to gleefully splash around in it for the next twenty minutes.  And I stood in a gentle rain watching my daughter begin her lifelong relationship with her new friend, Nature.

It embodied everything that childhood is about and was a joy to behold. It also did much to lighten the load of the previous days’ events.  You see, that innocuous little puddle was a remnant of the driving rain flung across the city by Superstorm Sandy, the massive storm that pummeled the Eastern Seaboard, and reached all the way inland to our city on Lake Ontario. Much like Hurricane Katrina on the Gulf Coast, the awesome devastation of the storm lay not just in its attack, but in its aftermath as well, and as I write, the death toll climbs, people survive without electricity, streets and homes are underwater and many roads and trains are useless. The pictures range from horrifying – like the views of the Breezy Point neighborhood in Rockaway flattened by flood and fire that consumed over 90 homes –  to jaw-dropping – with shots of water pouring into the NYC subway and tunnel systems, to the sublimely beautiful satellite photographs of the entire storm covering our corner of the blue planet.  It was and continues to be a bitter lesson both on the evolving science of climate change and meteorology and on the sheer force of Nature’s dispassionate power.

Hurricane Sandy Viewed in the Dark of Night. Image acquired by the Visible Infrared Imaging Radiometer Suite on the Suomi NPP satellite around 2:42 a.m. Eastern Daylight Time  on October 28, 2012. 

And amid an event marked by one disaster after another, those of us of the maritime profession (present and past), add also the keen pain of the loss the HMS Bounty, her Captain and one crew member.  Though my two years away often feels like much more, I join many of my colleagues in expressing conflicting feelings of despair, anger and profound sadness for the souls lost, their family and friends, and their ship now lying at the bottom of the Atlantic.

This melancholy tune has been with me since this all began.

In 2001, three days after the terrorist attacks of September 11, we began our sailing programs again on Clearwater, up the Hudson River from Ground Zero.  The fourth graders who sailed with us expressed the same enthusiasm at hoisting a sail, the same giddiness at their interaction with the fish they caught and the same thrill in helping steer the ship as those that came before them.  Their excitement was palpable and for the adults on board, all part of a grieving New York community, it was a much needed antidote to that grief.

As she grows I will teach my daughter to respect the beauty, complexity and power of nature, but this week she was the teacher.  Frolicking in that puddle, unaware of it’s origin, she has filled the role of antidote this time. Her joyful discovery snapped my jaw up off the floor into a wide smile and showed me that though Nature can be terribly awesome, she can be wonderfully so as well.