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A Perimenopausal Woman Does Denver

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As originally published on More.com in the blog MORE from the Floor

Am I the Hebe Dorsey of the DNC? She was the famous (now deceased) fashion editor of the International Herald Tribune who decided, when given a particularly awful seat at a top collection, to review the only thing she could actually see: the plaster column in front of her. The review created quite a scandale, and of course, Ms. Dorsey was not invited back the following year.

Well, these Dems have four years to think about how they'll track me down and scratch my name from every one of their hard drives. But that will take eons. Meantime, let me explain how I stared at a column for the entire first day of the convention.

I guess I should have known what my karma was up to when my plane landed in Denver 20 minutes ahead of schedule, but had to wait 40 minutes for a gate. By the time I actually got to my car (complete with driver, since I knew I could never find my way around town on my own), I had to race to the hotel where press credentials were being distributed before the place shut down at 1 PM.

The rest of the day I navigate the distance between events and places in 95-degree heat and weighed down by about 20 pounds of computer and cords and notebooks. Out here, with all the suddenly-cordoned-off streets and zig-zagging barricades (Denver apparently spent $50 million on security, one million on barricades alone), a car is often useless, and "next door" can easily mean a mile away on foot.

But now it's 5 pm on Monday and I'm thinking all the bad stuff is behind me. I buy my funny Obama buttons from peddlers and proudly show the security guy my pass, which entitles me to see Michelle Obama (More's October cover subject) deliver her opening night speech. The guy looks at me and says, "Sorry, this pass is for Wednesday!"

Have you ever seen a grown 51-year-old perimenopausal woman cry? Right there on the curb? I've managed my way around the slums of Africa and the tsunami-ravaged beaches of Thailand but Denver had me licked. And then I remembered, That was not a very More thought to have! I dusted myself off and made my way to the HuffPost Oasis to cool out. An hour later, I headed for the friend's house where I'm staying and tuned in to CNN.com. I watch video of Michelle Obama's incredible speech and take Scarlett O'Hara's words to heart: "Tomorrow is another day."

And Tuesday was a better day -- even if it was all about ogling. Ogling every available electric socket in every hotel I enter. Every blogger runs to plug in their dying phones and dying computers and we rejoice when there is a twosie.

But as I ogle I am also being ogled -- specifically, for my all-access floor pass, which I was given when the DNC guys realized I'd been handed the wrong ticket on day one. (Hey, 1.2 million More readers are not to be slighted!) While the rest of the press has to stand in line to get a half-hour pass for the main floor tonight, I sport my big one. It's like walking around with a 15 karat diamond on your hand or a size D chest (neither which I would have any experience with, of course). Yesterday I was invisible. Now I'm driving a Maserati!

But then the real heavy hitter arrives: Hillary Clinton, at a lunch given by Women Count. It's a garden party packed with estrogen, stocked with tambourines, and a shouting crowd that would match any rock show. Several women who are running important races -- from former New Hampshire governor Jeanne Shaheen (now challenging the Republican incumbent for the Senate) to Tracey Brooks (a New York attorney running for Congress) to New York congresswoman Carolyn Maloney -- warm up the crowd.

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New York Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney warmed up the crowd for Hillary, the main attraction.

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Women banged tambourines at a lunch for Hillary the rock star.

As we eat and bang our tambourines, the lioness -- as Maloney and others call her -- finally appears, flanked by a well-coiffed Chelsea and a phalanx of body guards. The crowd roars, deafeningly. Hillary cheers them on, then says, "Thank you for working for me, campaigning, standing with me; I know you worked your hearts out." To shouts of "Hillary! Hill-a-r-y!" she says, "This is a form of alternate energy. If we figured out how to hitch us up, we'd power and cool this whole building." As she exits, shouts of "2012!"

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Hillary Clinton: The lioness with her pack at a luncheon on Tuesday


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Chelsea Clinton: The well-coiffed lion cub

At Emily's List, the next event, the lioness hits her mark again, to even louder roars. And for the first time she mentions the names of the guys on the ticket and asks women to "work as hard for Barack Obama as you did for me!"

For the first time it seems to me that she has crossed that bridge from what she needs to do to what she wants to do. And I feel a subtle sadness ripple through the crowd -- an underlying longing for a leader they must let go. But they seem to be getting there. In this town, the name of the game is to walk softly and carry big credentials. And that's something Hillary Clinton does with ease.