It has come to an end. The political ads, the e-mails, the phone calls, the constant Facebook statuses and Tweets, they all are fading into the past and I am quite thankful for that; however, I am more thankful for the fact that our country has the right to cast their vote and participate in a democracy. 

Last night I could not sleep because for the first time I was able to vote and see what impact it had. I followed Twitter, Facebook, the election webpages for CNN, National Public Radio (NPR), Huffington Post, the first ever special election website for Marquette University Student Media and I was becoming incredibly frazzled. Why? Because there were so many different tallies, numbers, percentages, nothing was in sync and all I wanted to know was which was most accurate regarding the Presidential race. 

At 2:30 a.m. my time, 7:30 p.m. Central time it was looking like this: 
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NPR shows electoral votes: Obama 65, Romney, 82
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CNN shows electoral votes: Obama, 64, Romney, 56.
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HuffPost shows electoral votes: Obama, 65, Romney 67.
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MSM shows electoral votes: Obama, 64, Romney, 56.
How did I know which one to trust? I didn't, it was too early to even think about trusting one over the other and all the predictions I was seeing made me anxious because it was too early to call and I just wanted to know. 

Being abroad in Madrid, Spain while the elections were happening, especially my first ever Presidential election I could vote in, was difficult because I didn't get a taste of the hands-on, in the moment excitement. I always pictured myself in the newsroom in the basement of Johnston Hall on Marquette's campus biting my finger nails and live-blogging, that obviously did not happen but the students who were able to did a great job keeping me informed on a state and national level. While I am a little melancholy over the fact that I wasn't in the States  I was also thankful I was not because all day I didn't hear a thing about it. No one talked about it in the streets, in class, at work, it was a relief. Yes, there were multiple newspaper articles about it and my señora was kind informative and told me Obama is the reason most of Europe still takes a liking to the United States, but that was the only point I really spoke about politics. Though, I did see enough "I voted" comments online and have seen enough Facebook statuses and Tweets to gain a sense of the tension that may be occurring on campus and across the country. I guess you can never really escape reality when you follow social media websites. 

When I awoke this morning I was not entirely sure I wanted to know the results, both on a national and state level. Minnesotans voted on two potential constitutional amendments. The first was to clearly state that a marriage is between a man and a women, the other was to implement the concept of a Voter ID. Regardless of whether I wanted to see the results or not I had to look, there was no questions about it. 

First I went to CNN.
Then I wanted a second confirmation and a more visual breakdown of all the states, especially to see who took Virginia, Ohio and Florida. I went to Huffington Post
After seeing both results match up with one another I wanted to see how my former and fellow colleagues at Marquette Student Media handled the reporting and see if their information matched up.  
It sure did and to go full circle I went and checked on NPR's election site. 
For the first time in the whole election process I was looking at the same numbers and the same outcome. It was nice to know I was being informed correctly, regardless of who won or lost. 

After seeing who won the positions on a national and state level I hurried on over to see how the proposed constitutional amendments turned out on CBS Minnesota. Minnesota voted against both amendments, last night when I went to bed it was neck and neck, too close to tell. 
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Fifty-one percent of Minnesotans voted against stating marriage is solely between a male and a female.
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Fifty-two percent of Minnesotans voted against the implementation of a Voter ID.
This morning I woke up seeing clear results and in fact, results that made history. Tammy Baldwin made history twice becoming the first openly gay politician, and the first Wisconsin woman to be elected to the U.S. Senate. Two states, Colorado and Washington also legalized the recreational use of marijuana. Also, an understated vote took place win Puerto Rico yesterday where nearly 80 percent of the population voted and 54 percent of the voters said they wanted to become the 51st state of the United States. The 2012 elections were not only about the Presidential race, something I feel many people forget. 
In my opinion, it doesn't matter who you vote for or what you voted for, if our opinions are the same that makes a conversation over politics that much easier, if not that is OK with me since I don't enjoy talking about politics anyhow. To each their own. The only request I make is that if you chose not to exercise your right to vote and are going to rejoice or complain about the results being released I think you may need to reevaluate whether you should be since you didn't put your vote to use.  If you want change you have to make it happen. 

Today I watched President Barack Obama's acceptance speech, regardless if it would have been him or Romney, hearing these words made me feel as if my voice can be heard and that there is hope. Especially for Puerto Rico, I would like to go there without the hassle of a passport. 

"Whether I have earned your vote or not, I have listened to you. I have learned from you, and you have made me a better president. With your stories and your struggles I return to the White House more determined and more inspired than ever for the work there is to do that lays ahead. " - Barack Obama, Nov. 7, 2012.
 
Old people are the best. Trust me on this one. 

My grandma Fran Masson was a lady with spunk. She couponed better than anyone I know and her and Alfred Dunner were two pees in the same pod, even ask Macy's. Her take home strawberry blonde hair dye experiment gone awry the day before my grandfather's funeral is still one of the funniest memories I have of her and the nights where I squirmed when I saw her dentures in a glass by the sink in the bathroom will never be forgotten. Whenever I think about these things all I can say to myself is, #totalgrandmafranmove. That was a joke, Twitter speak annoys me, but when I do recall the many memories I had with her I can't help but smile. No one can ever replace their grandmother, and you certainly can't replace your mom either. Frances was a rock star and Elin, my mother, is one of a kind, and now I have met the Spanish version of them both combined: my señora, Irene. 

Irene, a woman in her seventies has lead an incredible life. She is one of 13 children, a mother of five and a widow of her husband she knew since the age of two. She played tennis her whole life until her knees gave out, and her pride and joy now are her two granddaughters and one grandson. However, Irene isn't just a woman who likes to be a grandma that spoils, she is a woman who has faced a lot of challenges in her life and isn't afraid to share them. 

The time was approximately 6:15 p.m. when another Marquette student and I arrived at Irene's home near Argüelles, the closest metro stop. She buzzed us up and then we got lost, thankfully she found us. We then dropped our suitcases in our rooms and sat in her plush red chairs that remind me of the ones you see in Pride and Prejudice. I sank into her comfy chair and after a few introductions and talk about our families I asked Irene how many children she had. She said, "Yo tenía cinco, pero perdí una y ahora tengo cuatro." Irene's youngest daughter died from brain cancer at the age of 37. She left behind a daughter and a husband. Three months later Irene lost her husband and just last year she lost her final sibling, a sister, whom she said she adored. 

The whole time all I could think of was my grandmother. How Irene has the same hair color before my grandmother attempted her one-stop home beauty salon. How my grandma always shoved food at me when I came over and how Irene does the same. Irene even says I will never get fat walking around Madrid so I should eat all the dulces I want - you can't not love a woman who says that. She even gave safety advice like my grandma except this time it was about not being mugged on the streets compared to my grandma assuring me it's better to go 45 in a 55. Needless to say my grandma drove in the right lane. 

Irene took the whole conversation with stride. She reminisced on her times with the family she lost with a twinkle in her eye that conveyed happiness in the chance to share her stories with someone new. You could tell by the way her smile stretched from one side of her mouth to another that she was going to be a positive influence and an absolute blast to live with. Her laugh fills the entire room and she even said she likes to dish out fashion advice, something my grandmother and mother would do all the time. Also, being the indecisive person I am this will be great.

After being given two more croissants with dark chocolate she asked if I wanted another before leaving and I said no. She tilted her head and gave me the, oh-stop-you-are-beautiful-the-way-you-look look but gave no protest and proceeded to say she loved the game show Pasapalabra. I chuckled at this. It's like being with my grandma all over again and watching Wheel of Fortune and Jeopardy

Irene and Fran are quite possibly the same person. Grandma was a whippersnapper and Irene is like the Energizer Bunny. Did I mention she just broke her back too but refuses to stay still and not do anything? Yeah, Irene doesn't take no for an answer. My father would say that is a trait that runs in the Masson women. I guess Irene and I were meant to be together. 

For now all I can say is every older person I have met in my life has rocked and that's not an exaggeration, all people from Minnesota are nice. I think I want my new best friends to all be 70 and up, so if you don't meet that standard we can't be friends. #sorryimnotsorry.