January 20th Is Quite A Day

January 20, 2010

January 20th has become a special day to me over the past couple of years. Including this year, this date has shaped part of who I am and who I have become. So, for your reading pleasure, here is a little rundown of the past four January 20ths:

January 20, 2007, Israel: If anyone asks me about my experience in Israel, I always start out with the words “life changing,” not only because of my religious connection to the country finally being realized, but for the memories of who I was before and after this trip. Before this trip, I was coming out of a long relationship, and I really had no focus on who my true friends were and what I wanted to get out of college (in fact, I was not even declared as a government major yet). Coming out of this trip, I had a newfound passion for Judaism and for Jews and a true focus of what I wanted to do in the near and far future. In my high school years, Judaism and being friends with Jewish people had been completely ruined for me (i.e. my high school friendships, USY, Bergen County High School of Jewish Studies). I had no interest whatsoever in being apart of that scene. Coming back from Israel, I was refocused on the fact that I was proud of my heritage and realized that there are some pretty cool Jews out there. From that point on, I got involved with the Jewish community and by the time I left college, I pretty much had only religious Jews as friends (go figure). If someone would have told me five years ago who my closest friends would be, I would have called their bluff, and this reformation changed when I entered and left the Holy Land.

January 20, 2008, Italy: Whereas Israel changed who I was as a person, Italy reaffirmed who I was as a person. I loved my experiences in Italy and I came into that situation, not with the mindset I had in Israel (which was to look for a life changing experience that would actually shape the person who I would eventually become), but rather to maximize my “fun time” and just look for classic experiences that would further the lore of Mike (yeah, I said that). In Italy, I continued being a good student, but for the first time in my educational career, I combined it was a brash, loud mouthed personality that resulted in new friends, classic times, and a new mentor. Had I not had that life changing experience in Israel, I probably would not have been so open to going on this trip and creating lasting relationships and memories. But now, I had a new outlook on life, which was to work hard, play hard and be myself around people. Furthermore, I reaffirmed my Jewishness by going out of way to attend synagogue in Rome and Florence (can you say “hot Italian Jewish girls?”).

January 20, 2009, Washington, D.C.: I feel like Robert Langdon in the those Dan Brown novels with the way I’ve traveled the world and had classic experiences (but not near death ones) with the third one coming in Washington, D.C. But here, unlike the newest Dan Brown novel, it did not end in disappointment. If you haven’t read my blog from last year about this experience, click here. Working for CBS for the inauguration of Barack Obama was one of the coolest experiences in my life, and the things I saw and got to do, and the people I got to meet (hellllllooooo Oprah) is something that very few people outside of Katie Couric can say they’ve done. Being about 75 feet from Barack Obama and overlooking the Clintons, the Fords and the elder Bushes is something no one can take away from me and one of the most unique experiences. This entire experience made me more passionate than I was (with working on the Hill and dominating the government school in college) about the government. It was what drove me to law school and what still drives me today. I still get chills thinking about how lucky I was and the long hours I worked over that winter break. I also remember long underwear and no sleep.

January 20, 2010, New York City: Okay, this one is a tad depressing. I go from Israel, to Italy, to the inauguration, to… law school. Bummer. But in actuality, it really isn’t that bad. All four of these experiences have impacted who I am. Law school is just another chapter in my life. Granted, the work sucks. So does the long hours. And so does missing out on the Real World and Jersey Shore. But in the bigger picture, I chose to be here because I want to become a lawyer. It’s what keeps me going through the long hours of reading and studying and finals (and the grades that follow). The fact of the matter is, in two and a half years from this current date, I will be a law school graduate, which is pretty cool (it also means I could potentially be making enough money to buy lots of Playstation 3 games, which is actually the sole reason I decided to come to law school). And worse comes to worst, hopefully by the time I graduate the technology for time machines will be available so I could go back and enjoy better January 20ths.

The Post Everyone Has Waited For: My Work for the Inauguration of Barack Obama

January 25, 2009

Yes, it’s true, for one week I worked for a major television network to set up and cover the inauguration of our fourty-fourth President.  Let me just say how lucky I truly am to have experienced something so amazing and so up close.  I have a permanent smile over an experience that I never and will never take for granted.  It was a once in a lifetime experience, and as a close family member said, my life has peaked at the age of twenty-one.  I have a couple thoughts, stories, etc. that I will tell in no organized way whatsoever.

I started working the Thursday before inauguration.  I took a red eye straight from Orlando, Florida to Washington, D.C. so I could get my credentials in time (trust me, Capitol Police and Secret Service did not take anything lightly whatsoever).  The first time I walked through security to the trailers on the west side of the Capitol Building, the Capitol Policeman, Tom, asked me my name.  Turns out this guy was one of the nicest and friendliest people I have ever met.  And, he never forgot my name from there.

Later that day, I walked to the front of the Capitol Building to see the stage for the first time.  And let me tell you, it was absolutely breathtaking.  Nobody was on the stage except for me and it kind of felt surreal–I knew something amazing was going to happen here in a couple of days but it didn’t seem real and it hadn’t hit me yet.

On Friday, I got the opportunity to go up to the roof of the Capitol to bring up some materials for the camera man.  Looking out from this view was maybe the most amazing view I have ever seen.  Period.  It didn’t hurt that it was a perfect day outside (minus the temperature being in the teens), so visibility was amazing.  At that point, the magnitude of the event still had not hit me, but the realization of how lucky I was and how only a few people ever had got to experience what I was feeling at that moment on the roof.  That day I also got to visit the anchor’s desk and that was also pretty cool.

The next day, Saturday, I got to return to the inside of the Capitol Building, where I had worked as an intern for 8 months in the year 2007.  It was pretty cool being back and it kind of felt like a full circle type thing.  Two years ago, I started my journey as a young Government and Politics major into the world of politics and actually getting involved, and here I was, two years later, working for the inauguration for a historic presidency.  Pretty cool feeling. 

The next day, a couple of interns and I were in the right place at the right time because right after they practiced an official run-through of the inauguration, we sneaked out and took pictures on the platform where Mr. Obama would stand.   However, the greatness of this event still hadn’t hit me, until Monday.

Monday was pure insanity.  D.C. was packed.  You couldn’t move on the Metro, or even on the streets, especially since the road was closed.  At around 8am that day, the lines outside of the House Office Buildings were gigantic, as everyone had to pick up their tickets for the event.  It finally had hit me–this thing was going to be huge.  Walking around the city, I found it impossible to move, and even more impossible to drive in (trust me, we learned the hard way after a four hour round trip to the D.C. Bureau which should have taken 45 minutes at most).

That day, I also was surprised to find out that I would be going to the South Inaugural Ball.  I was lucky, as I knew somebody who worked at the Obama offices.  If this girl is reading this, let me tell you, I adore you.  Although I had a feeling you were the coolest girl I knew before getting me tickets (it was between you and Hillary Clinton), it is now definite that you are the coolest girl I know (besides Hillary has only disappointed me over the past year, and you haven’t).  I can’t say enough great things about this girl.  Anyway, I scrambled last second to get a tuxedo and boy, was I lucky.

The next day was game day.  It took me three hours to get from my apartment, through the Metro station (which was crazy), through security, through Secret Service and finally to our trailer.  It was pretty awesome though that throughout the packed Metro ride everyone, and I mean EVERYONE was chanting “O-BAM-A.”  It was pretty awesome.  Also, everyone in D.C. throughout the week was incredibly nice and friendly.  Everyone talked, laughed and shared stories.  This included me.  Typically on the Metro, I listen to my iPod and mind my own business, but this week I talked to others (mostly tourists) and even gave out my phone number if they had any questions about the city or any problems.  Anyway, I finally got in to work and was ready to go.

Our boss told us to go out to the stage to take pictures, etc. because for the actual ceremony we would be in the trailer (we were all pretty disappointed).  However, on the stage, we had the opportunity to meet and take pictures with most of the following: Denzel Washington, Oprah (she was crying already when I met her), Maria Menoudos (I think that’s her name from Access Hollywood… really hot but pretty crappy attitude), Tobey McGuire (the guy was pretty nice and willing to take pictures with everyone), Oprah’s friend Gayle (also friendly, but probably because she was happy someone noticed her), Samuel L. Jackson, Angela Bassett, Terrell Owens, Jamie Lee Curtis, and many others.  It was pretty cool that these people were not the main attractions and most didn’t even pay huge amounts of attention to them.

We went to the trailer after a couple hours on the stage where we overlooked the crowd on the mall (which was packed by 6am).  It was pretty overwhelming to see two million people in front of me.  I was really taken aback.  Anyway, we went back to the trailer, and my boss, who is a very close family friend who I have known my entire life (whose daughters, now grown, babysat me and my brother), said to me that I had to deliver something to a camera man on the balustrade (the deck right over the entrance onto the main stage and overlooking the former Presidents, Supreme Court Justices, Senators, Congressmen, VIPs, the Biden Family, the Obama family, etc., etc., etc.  He also told the other interns to go deliver the same thing to the cameramen on the press bleachers.  He handed us all passes for the areas we were to go, and said he wanted them back after we delivered the papers to the cameramen.

So, I went to the balustrade and saw the most amazing view of the crowd completely filled in just about a half hour before the event.  The crowd was abuzz with Obama chants and this air of excitement.  It was pretty cool.  Anyway, I delivered what I had to deliver, took my pictures and went back down.  As I re-entered the trailer, my boss said to me to go back… AND STAY THERE!!!

As I stationed myself on the balustrade, I stood, for the most part, with no one in front of me and I had a clear view of the stage.  It was one of the most emotional and overwhelming things of my life.  I was shaking for the first half hour and during President Obama’s speech, it dawned on me that I was one of the luckiest people in the world at that moment.  For a man who doesn’t cry or get very emotional, a tear came into my eye and I became very choked up over the whole thing.  I also didn’t realize that I was completely freezing, but it didn’t matter.  I was literally fifty feet away from President Obama giving his speech.  It was completely awesome.  It made the long hours, early mornings, and other things worth it.

I really didn’t have time to digest everything because immediately from work (which I got out early from) I went to the tuxedo place on Independence Avenue and changed into my tux on the spot.  I immediately went back to College Park to pick up my date and went to the DC Armory.  This event was pretty cool and probably would have been the coolest event ever, but the inauguration slightly overshadowed it.  It was pretty awesome to hear President Obama and Vice President Biden speak (with Biden, of course, getting over excited about nothing, but that’s just him, and why we all love him).  By the end of the night I had been up 24 hours straight and pretty exhausted.

I slept for an hour and woke up the next morning to go back to work to finish up.  It was a quick day, as I pretty much just delivered some gifts to some Capitol staffers on behalf of the network.  I got to walk through the Capitol Building and reminisce on my times there throughout the past two years and then went to the stands on the steps of the Capitol where yesterday’s ceremony took place.  I sat there for a good twenty minutes just reflected for a little on what had happened in the past forty hours of my life.  I realized how lucky I was and how I wished every one of my friends and family could have experienced what I had experienced.  I will continue to say how lucky I am, and this experience will probably take awhile for it to settle in for me completely.  My fellow interns were amazing and my bosses were incredible.  I just can’t believe I got to do something so cool and I am incredibly thankful to all who made it possible.

The Opening and Closing of Chapters in My Life

November 23, 2008

Wow, I haven’t written a post in a long time, so I figure I owe one to my loyal readers (that “s” at the end might be a bit of stretch) out there.  So here are my thoughts on the past month.

Mazel tov America.  We did it.  We elected Barack Obama.  Now, I planned on writing a post blaming college aged kids if Senator McCain won.  I planned on saying how the youth are so outspoken and always complaining about this and that and jumping on the “I Hate George W. Bush Bandwagon” and then never showing up to vote.  But you proved me wrong.  The 18-25 demographic showed up in record numbers.  It was insane that President-elect Obama won in almost every demographic, including outstanding showings among Christians and Protestants (which have both leaned Republican since the Reagan years), the Jews (almost 80%) and even the elderly.  It is important to mention that Senator McCain’s concession speech was incredible and inspiring.  If he would have spoken like that all campaign long (and the economy didn’t fall apart and Bush’s approval ratings weren’t in the crapper) he would have had a fighting chance.  The Senator McCain I know (and have met numerous times) has a great sense of humor and is incredibly insightful and we didn’t see that on the campaign.  In addition, it will also be interesting to see how the Republicans recover and what Governor Palin (or should I say “Rock Star” Palin) will do.

What else, what else.  Oh!  So it’s pretty rad that Blink-182 is talking again, huh?

Anyway, moving on…  So I started my edits and rewrites of a script I am writing.  I wrote it over the summer and decided not to look at it for a couple months to see if I still liked it after the wait.  Well, I looked at it and still liked it.  It needs work though.  It’s just good to be writing again, especially since the script is very personal, but also incredibly hysterical.  Obviously, this is the first time I am posting on it (and only a handful of friends know about it), but I take pieces of my blog and real life experiences and put it into this piece of work that I am so passionate about.  It’s a pretty cool and funny script and I will continue to work on it throughout the winter (it’s a slow process).  It’s kind of hard to write the script and then come back to the blog.  It’s two completely different kinds of writing pieces.  I will try though.

So I went to visit a prestigious law school in Washington (whose school has a weird mascot) and two things went through my head: 1.  “Well I guess this is growing up.”  2.  These people are strange.  So my first thought was the idea that I was growing up.  It seemed like a far off thought until I actually stepped onto campus and saw myself there.  It was a very strange feeling.  I mean, I’m looking forward to the future but also enjoying the present (I will get back to this in a little).  The second thought I had is that the people at this school were strange.  There were two types of people:  the pretentious people that wore sweater vests and nice clothing and the people who wore sweat pants and a hoody to class.  I started to think about which one I would be.  The pretentious one is interesting.  In all fairness, they deserve to be pretentious;  this was a hard school to get into and they are clearly better than most.  But also, they kind of seemed like douches.  But cool and smart douches.  The sweatshirt people were laid back, but also a little too informal for a place like this law school.  I don’t know what I would be.  Both sides are attractive.  Hopefully, I could find a healthy medium.

My last tidbit is that I went to my last home college football game as a student, and although my team got whipped, I stayed until the end in the freezing cold.  I just sat there as my team was down by over 30 and thought about the good and bad times.  I was incredibly emotional and although my team let me down last night, they were one of the few constant things in my college career.  I could always count on them to be there for me every Saturday.  It was an emotional experience, but like some band said, “Well I guess this is growing up” (although before this they said, “Take your pants off.”).  I’m sad this chapter of my life has come to a close but I will always cherish the times I had in that stadium living and dying with every touchdown and interception thrown.