In this proud land we grew up strong
We were wanted all along
I was taught to fight, taught to win
I never thought I could fail
No fight left or so it seems
I am a man whose dreams have all deserted
I've changed my face, I've changed my name
But no-one wants you when you lose
Don't give up 'cause you have friends
Don't give up you're not beaten yet
Don't give up I know you can make it good
Though I saw it all around
Never thought that I could be affected
Thought that we'd be last to go
It is so strange the way things turn
Drove the night toward my home
The place that I was born, on the lakeside
As daylight broke, I saw the earth
The trees had burned down to the ground
Don't give up you still have us
Don't give up we don't need much of anything
Don't give up 'cause somewhere there's a place where we belong
Rest your head
You worry too much
It's going to be alright
When times get rough
You can fall back on us
Don't give up
Please don't give up
Got to walk out of here
I can't take anymore
Going to stand on that bridge
Keep my eyes down below
Whatever may come
and whatever may go
That river's flowing
That river's flowing
Moved on to another town
Tried hard to settle down
For every job, so many men
So many men no-one needs
Don't give up 'cause you have friends
Don't give up you're not the only one
Don't give up no reason to be ashamed
Don't give up you still have us
Don't give up now we're proud of who you are
Don't give up you know it's never been easy
Don't give up 'cause I believe there's a place
There's a place
Where we belong
Chinese women in China are crazy! My love advice to them. It's lychee season.
Below is my love advice to Chinese women in China.
However, I must state two disclaimers before you read this:
DISCLAIMER #1: Chinese women in China are crazy. Dating is a different animal in China. Because of the one child policy in China, Chinese girls are cultural wired to get married as soon as possible. If they don't get married fast, they would be negatively labeled. PLUS! They face extreme pressure from their parents because since their parents can only have one child, and since China does not have 401k, IRA, retirement plans, or Social Security, these parents expect their child's husband to provide for their retirements! Marrying rich in China is expected. If the girl does not have a boyfriend by 22, then she feels like a loser. If she does not get married by 24, something is wrong with her. If she's not married by 27, then she's labeled as an outcast. If she's not married by 30, then she thinks no man would ever want her. The pressure is extreme in China. The running joke among foreigners here is that if you date a Chinese girl one month, she will want ask for marriage the next. Naturally, this scares off most foreigners. I must say not all Chinese girls in China are like this, but the majority of them are, especially if they are less educated. China is changing everyday.
DISCLAIMER #2: It's lychee season in Dalian. I don't know how that connects with anything above and below. But I've been eating lychee everyday. And studying Mandarin.
My advice on love: Love is about timing. When two people are ready, then love can happen. Most of the time, people have the wrong timing in life. One person might love a different person while the other is not ready to love. But we should not give up on love because of time. No. Just like we wait all winter for the flowers or the lychee to bloom, we must wait on love to test ourselves if our love is really real and to show others our love is real. Sometimes chasing love can be fruitless. But loving others is what makes us human. And not loving more is the greatest regret in life.
Once I said,"If you ever need me Jack, call me." It sill holds good. It wasn't said in a flippant mood. It was really written with heartblood if that doesn't sound too drastic and repulsive. So it stands. If ever I can ease you a pain, physical or mental, come to me, or I will go to you. It won't be a matter of petty pride. It won't be,"I can't go to you, but if you come to me, it is all right." Price is fine. Too much spoils one's own and other's lives. Please don't ever let pride ruin a friendship which started, which I hope wasn't ruined becaused you had me too easily. If you feel anything beautiful in your life--I am not talking about me--then don't hesitate to say so, don't hesitate to make the little bird sing. It costs so little; a word, a smile, a slight touch of hand...
My dearest the very best to you including my love.
Woody Allen 的电影"午夜巴黎"（Mid Night in Paris）获得2011年最佳影片提名，影片中的男主人公一边陪着女友和她富有而保守的父母在巴黎旅游，一边创作自己的第一部浪漫小说。男主人公和女友及她家人有一连串不愉快的冲突，在一次醉酒之后，通过时空穿越回到向往的1920年代的巴黎。在那里，他遇到了仰慕已久的那个年代的众多著名作家，包括Hemingway, Cole Porter, Gertrude Stein, Salvador Dali, T. S. Eliot, Djuna Barnes, Josephine Baker, Luis Bunuel, Man Ray 还有Scott 和Zelda Fitzgerald 夫妇。
弗•司各特•菲茨杰拉德 (Francis Scott Fitzgerald 1896-1940， 是“迷惘的一代”（Lost Generation）的代表作家，是“浮躁的20年代”(the roaring 20s)的代言人，也是“爵士乐时代”（Jazz Age）的桂冠诗人。上世纪二十年代的美国有各种不同的称呼，是一个爆发的年代，弥漫着欢歌与纵饮。The Great Gatsby敏锐地抓住了当代社会生活的主题，并以象征手法展现了当时追求“美国梦”的辛酸，嘲讽及悲怅。
There are places I'll remember
All my life though some have changed
Some forever not for better
Some have gone and some remain
All these places had their moments
With lovers and friends I still can recall
Some are dead and some are living
In my life I've loved them all
But of all these friends and lovers
There is no one compares with you
And these memories lose their meaning
When I think of love as something new
Though I know I'll never lose affection
For people and things that went before
I know I'll often stop and think about them
In my life I love you more
Though I know I'll never lose affection
For people and things that went before
I know I'll often stop and think about them
In my life I love you more
In my life I love you more
开车时听NPR采访Barbra Streisa, 播放那段熟悉的音乐People who need people are the luckiest people in the world. 转念想，isn't it that people who don't need people are the luckiest people in the world? So who's the real luckiest one?
People who need people
Are the luckiest people in the world
Were children needing other children
And yet letting our grown-up pride
Hide all the need inside
Acting more like children than children
Are very special people
They're the luckiest people in the world
With one person,
One very special person
A feeling deep in your soul
Says you are half now you're whole
No more hunger and thirst
But first be a person who needs people
People, people who need people
Are the luckiest people in the world.
Boston, please accept my apologies. I have taken advantage of our relationship and did not appreciate you enough. I was being a spoiled brat. I did not know what I have until I actually don't have it anymore. Boston, you always loved me but when I was with you, I was thinking of someone else. I was thinking of Atlanta. Atlanta was wild and Atlanta was sexy, but now I know she was only a fling. Atlanta never truly love me but being with her was such a great high, that I didn't really see what was going on. Boston, you were patient with me and you were showing me a tough but true love. Right now, Dalian confuses the heck out of me. Most of the time, I don't know what she's thinking or saying. She's so mysterious and different from me. I think she's not good for my health nor for my future but I ran to her because I wanted something new. However, something new is not what I need but I want I need is something strong. What I need is not a new adventure, but a stronger focus on what I should become. I can only become strong if I am in Boston.
So Boston, I will come back. I hope you accept me back.
MY wife and I attended my 30-year college reunion a couple of weekends ago, but the partying was bittersweet. My freshman roommate, Scott Androes, was in a Seattle hospital bed, a victim in part of a broken health care system. Strip away the sound and fury of campaign ads and rival spinmeisters, and what’s at stake in this presidential election is, in part, lives like Scott’s.
Scott and I were both Oregon farm boys, friends through the Future Farmers of America, when Harvard sent us thick envelopes. We were exhilarated but nervous, for neither of us had ever actually visited Harvard, and we asked to room together for moral support among all those city slickers.
We were the country bumpkins of Harvard Yard. Yet if we amused our classmates more than we intended, we had our private jokes as well. We let slip (falsely) that we kept deer rifles under our beds and smiled as our friends gave them a wide berth.
Scott was there when I limped back from the Worst Date in History (quite regularly), and he and I together worked our way onto the Crimson, the student newspaper. He had an omnivorous mind: Scott may be the only champion judge of dairy cattle who enjoyed quoting Thomas Macaulay, the 19th-century British historian. Scott topped off his erudition with a crackling wit to deflate pretentiousness (which, at Harvard, kept him busy).
By nature, Scott was even-keeled, prudent and cautious, and he always looked like the mild-mannered financial consultant that he became. He never lost his temper, never drove too fast, never got drunk, never smoked marijuana.
Well, not that I remember. I don’t want to discredit his youth.
Yet for all his innate prudence, Scott now, at age 52, is suffering from Stage 4 prostate cancer, in part because he didn’t have health insurance. President Obama’s health care reform came just a bit too late to help Scott, but it will protect others like him — unless Mitt Romney repeals it.
If you favor gutting “Obamacare,” please listen to Scott’s story. He is willing to recount his embarrassing tale in part so that readers can learn from it.
I’ll let Scott take over the narrative:
It all started in December 2003 when I quit my job as a pension consultant in a fit of midlife crisis. For the next year I did little besides read books I’d always wanted to read and play poker in the local card rooms.
I didn’t buy health insurance because I knew it would be really expensive in the individual policy market, because many of the people in this market are high risk. I would have bought insurance if there had been any kind of fair-risk pooling. In 2005 I started working seasonally for H&R Block doing tax returns.
As seasonal work it of course doesn’t provide health benefits, but then lots of full-time jobs don’t either. I knew I was taking a big risk without insurance, but I was foolish.
In 2011 I began having greater difficulty peeing. I didn’t go see the doctor because that would have been several hundred dollars out of pocket — just enough disincentive to get me to make a bad decision.
Early this year, I began seeing blood in my urine, and then I got scared. I Googled “blood in urine” and turned up several possible explanations. I remember sitting at my computer and thinking, “Well, I can afford the cost of an infection, but cancer would probably bust my bank and take everything in my I.R.A. So I’m just going to bet on this being an infection.”
I was extremely busy at work since it was peak tax season, so I figured I’d go after April 15. Then I developed a 102-degree fever and went to one of those urgent care clinics in a strip mall. (I didn’t have a regular physician and hadn’t been getting annual physicals.)
The doctor there gave me a diagnosis of prostate infection and prescribed antibiotics. That seemed to help, but by April 15 it seemed to be getting worse again. On May 3 I saw a urologist, and he drew blood for tests, but the results weren’t back yet that weekend when my health degenerated rapidly.
A friend took me to the Swedish Medical Center Emergency Room near my home. Doctors ran blood labs immediately. A normal P.S.A. test for prostate cancer is below 4, and mine was 1,100. They also did a CT scan, which turned up possible signs of cancerous bone lesions. Prostate cancer likes to spread to bones.
I also had a blood disorder called disseminated intravascular coagulation, which is sometimes brought on by prostate cancer. It basically causes you to destroy your own blood cells, and it’s abbreviated as D.I.C. Medical students joke that it stands for “death is close.”
Let’s just stipulate up front that Scott blew it. Other people are sometimes too poor to buy health insurance or unschooled about the risks. Scott had no excuse. He could have afforded insurance, and while working in the pension industry he became expert on actuarial statistics; he knew precisely what risks he was taking. He’s the first to admit that he screwed up catastrophically and may die as a result.
Yet remember also that while Scott was foolish, mostly he was unlucky. He is a bachelor, so he didn’t have a spouse whose insurance he could fall back on in his midlife crisis. In any case, we all take risks, and usually we get away with them. Scott is a usually prudent guy who took a chance, and then everything went wrong.
The Mitt Romney philosophy, as I understand it, is that this is a tragic but necessary byproduct of requiring Americans to take personal responsibility for their lives. They need to understand that mistakes have consequences. That’s why Romney would repeal Obamacare and leave people like Scott to pay the price for their irresponsibility.
To me, that seems ineffably harsh. We all make mistakes, and a humane government tries to compensate for our misjudgments. That’s why highways have guardrails, why drivers must wear seat belts, why police officers pull over speeders, why we have fire codes. In other modern countries, Scott would have been insured, and his cancer would have been much more likely to be detected in time for effective treatment.
Is that a nanny state? No, it’s a civilized one.
President Obama’s care plan addresses this problem inelegantly, by forcing people like Scott to buy insurance beginning in 2014. Some will grumble about the “mandate” and the insurance cost, but it will save lives.
Already, Obamacare is slowly reducing the number of people without health insurance, as young adults can now stay on their parents’ plans. But the Census Bureau reported last month that 48.6 million Americans are still uninsured — a travesty in a wealthy country. The Urban Institute calculated in 2008 that some 27,000 Americans between the ages of 25 and 65 die prematurely each year because they don’t have health insurance. Another estimate is even higher.
You want to put a face on those numbers? Look at Scott’s picture. One American like him dies every 20 minutes for lack of health insurance.
Back to Scott:
For seven weeks they kept me alive with daily blood transfusions. They also gave me chemotherapy, suppressing the cancer so that my blood could return to normal. I was released June 29, and since then have had more chemo and also hormone therapy to limit the cancer growth.
But the cancer has kept growing, and I went to the E.R. again on Sept. 17 when I found that I was losing all strength in my legs. They did an M.R.I. and saw that there were tumors pressing on my spinal cord. They have been treating me with radiation for three weeks now to shrink those tumors and will continue to do so for another week.
I submitted an application to the hospital for charity care and was approved. The bill is already north of $550,000. Based on the low income on my tax return they knocked it down to $1,339. Swedish Medical Center has treated me better than I ever deserved.
Some doctor bills are not covered by the charity application, and I expect to spend all of my I.R.A. assets before I’m done. Some doctors have been generously treating me without sending bills, and I am humbled by their ethic of service to the patient.
Some things I have to pay for, like $1,700 for the Lupron hormone therapy and $1,400 for an ambulance trip. It’s an arbitrary and haphazard system, and I’m just lucky to live in a city with a highly competent and generous hospital like Swedish.
In this respect, Scott is very lucky, and the system is now responding superbly and compassionately. But of course, his care is not exactly “free” — we’re all paying the bill.
Romney argues that Obamacare is economically inefficient. But where is the efficiency in a system that neglects routine physicals and preventive care, and then pays $550,000 in bills as a result? To me, this is repugnant economically as well as morally.
In the Romney system, people like Scott would remain uninsured. And they would be unable to buy insurance because of their cancer history.
Obamacare does address these problems, albeit in a complex and intrusive way, forcing people by a mandate to get insurance. Some will certainly fall through the cracks, and in any case the Obama plan does little to address the underlying problem of rising health costs. But do we really prefer the previous system in which one American in six was uninsured like Scott, all walking the tightrope, and sometimes falling off?
As my classmates and I celebrated our reunion and relived our triumphs — like spiking the punch during a visit by the governor — I kept thinking of Scott in his hospital bed. No amount of nostalgic laughter could fill the void of his absence.
Back to Scott:
This whole experience has made me feel like such a fool. I blew one that I really should have gotten right. You probably remember that my mother died of breast cancer the July before we started college. She watched my high school graduation from the back of an ambulance on the football field at our outdoor graduation. Six weeks later she was dead, and six weeks after that I was on an airplane that took me east of the Mississippi for the first time in my life.
Her death at 53 permanently darkened my view of life. It also made me feel that I was at high risk for cancer because in my amateur opinion I was genetically very similar to her, just based on appearance and personality. And much of my career has been in actuarial work, where the whole point is to identify risks.
I read Nassim Taleb’s book “The Black Swan” and imbibed his idea that you should keep an eye out for low-probability events that have potentially big consequences, both positive and negative. You insure against the potentially negative ones, like prostate cancer.
So why didn’t I get physicals? Why didn’t I get P.S.A. tests? Why didn’t I get examined when I started having trouble urinating? Partly because of the traditional male delinquency about seeing doctors. I had no regular family doctor; typical bachelor guy behavior.
I had plenty of warning signs, and that’s why I feel like a damned fool. I would give anything to have gone to a doctor in, say, October 2011. It fills me with regret. Now I’m struggling with all my might to walk 30 feet down the hallway with the physical therapists holding on to me so I don’t fall. I’ve got all my chips bet on the hope that the radiation treatments that I’m getting daily are going to shrink the tumors that are pressing on my spinal cord so that someday soon I can be back out on the sidewalk enjoying a walk in my neighborhood. That would be the height of joy for me.
When I make mistakes, my wife and friends forgive me. We need a health care system that is equally forgiving.
That means getting all Americans insured, and then emphasizing preventive care like cancer screenings. Presidents since Franklin D. Roosevelt have sought to create universal health insurance, and Obama finally saw it achieved in his first term. It will gradually come into effect, with 2014 the pivotal year — if Romney does not repeal it.
In some ways, of course, America’s health care system is superb. It is masterly in pioneering new techniques, and its top-level care for those with insurance is unrivaled. Sometimes even those without insurance, like Scott, get superb care as charity cases, and I salute the doctors at Swedish Medical Center in Seattle for their professionalism and compassion toward my old friend.
But it would have made more sense to provide Scott with insurance and regular physicals. Catching the cancer early might have saved hundreds of thousands of dollars in radiation and chemo expenses — and maybe a life as well.
So as you watch the presidential debates, as you listen to those campaign ads, remember that what is at stake is not so much the success of one politician or another. The real impact of the election will be felt in the lives of men and women around the country, in spheres as intimate as our gut-wrenching fear when we spot blood in our urine.
Our choices this election come too late for Scott, although I hope that my friend from tiny Silverton, Ore., who somehow beat the odds so many times already in his life, will also beat this cancer. The election has the potential to help save the lives of many others who don’t have insurance.
In his hospital room, my old pal is gallantly fighting his cancer — and battling a gnawing uncertainty that he should never have had to face, that no American should so needlessly endure. This is all heartbreakingly unnecessary. I’ll give Scott the final word.
From my 12th floor room I have a panoramic view looking east from downtown Seattle toward the suburbs to the Cascade Mountains. My visitors are often struck by the view.
Through my window I watch a succession of gloriously sunny days and I wonder if this will be my last Indian summer on earth. I still have hope and I tell myself that medical science has come a long way in the 34 years since my mother died, but I can’t help feeling that I’m walking in her footsteps.
注1：《圣经》以色列人出埃及的典故，摩西带领以色列人摆脱埃及法老的奴役，他被上帝带到山顶上，看到了“应许之地”。马丁路德金被暗杀之前的最后一场演讲即名为《I've been to the mountaintop》。
Transcript: Michelle Obama's Convention Speech
Thank you so much, Elaine...we are so grateful for your family's service and sacrifice...and we will always have your back.
Over the past few years as First Lady, I have had the extraordinary privilege of traveling all across this country.
And everywhere I've gone, in the people I've met, and the stories I've heard, I have seen the very best of the American spirit.
I have seen it in the incredible kindness and warmth that people have shown me and my family, especially our girls.
I've seen it in teachers in a near-bankrupt school district who vowed to keep teaching without pay.
I've seen it in people who become heroes at a moment's notice, diving into harm's way to save others...flying across the country to put out a fire...driving for hours to bail out a flooded town.
And I've seen it in our men and women in uniform and our proud military families...in wounded warriors who tell me they're not just going to walk again, they're going to run, and they're going to run marathons...in the young man blinded by a bomb in Afghanistan who said, simply, "...I'd give my eyes 100 times again to have the chance to do what I have done and what I can still do."
Every day, the people I meet inspire me...every day, they make me proud...every day they remind me how blessed we are to live in the greatest nation on earth.
Serving as your First Lady is an honor and a privilege...but back when we first came together four years ago, I still had some concerns about this journey we'd begun.
While I believed deeply in my husband's vision for this country...and I was certain he would make an extraordinary President...like any mother, I was worried about what it would mean for our girls if he got that chance.
How would we keep them grounded under the glare of the national spotlight?
First lady Michelle Obama addresses the DNC after being introduced by military mom Elaine Brye, from PBS NewsHour.
How would they feel being uprooted from their school, their friends, and the only home they'd ever known?
Our life before moving to Washington was filled with simple joys...Saturdays at soccer games, Sundays at grandma's house...and a date night for Barack and me was either dinner or a movie, because as an exhausted mom, I couldn't stay awake for both.
And the truth is, I loved the life we had built for our girls...I deeply loved the man I had built that life with...and I didn't want that to change if he became President.
I loved Barack just the way he was.
You see, even though back then Barack was a Senator and a presidential candidate...to me, he was still the guy who'd picked me up for our dates in a car that was so rusted out, I could actually see the pavement going by through a hole in the passenger side door...he was the guy whose proudest possession was a coffee table he'd found in a dumpster, and whose only pair of decent shoes was half a size too small.
But when Barack started telling me about his family ? that's when I knew I had found a kindred spirit, someone whose values and upbringing were so much like mine.
You see, Barack and I were both raised by families who didn't have much in the way of money or material possessions but who had given us something far more valuable ? their unconditional love, their unflinching sacrifice, and the chance to go places they had never imagined for themselves.
My father was a pump operator at the city water plant, and he was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis when my brother and I were young.
And even as a kid, I knew there were plenty of days when he was in pain...I knew there were plenty of mornings when it was a struggle for him to simply get out of bed.
But every morning, I watched my father wake up with a smile, grab his walker, prop himself up against the bathroom sink, and slowly shave and button his uniform.
And when he returned home after a long day's work, my brother and I would stand at the top of the stairs to our little apartment, patiently waiting to greet him...watching as he reached down to lift one leg, and then the other, to slowly climb his way into our arms.
But despite these challenges, my dad hardly ever missed a day of work...he and my mom were determined to give me and my brother the kind of education they could only dream of.
And when my brother and I finally made it to college, nearly all of our tuition came from student loans and grants.
But my dad still had to pay a tiny portion of that tuition himself.
And every semester, he was determined to pay that bill right on time, even taking out loans when he fell short.
He was so proud to be sending his kids to college...and he made sure we never missed a registration deadline because his check was late.
You see, for my dad, that's what it meant to be a man.
Like so many of us, that was the measure of his success in life ? being able to earn a decent living that allowed him to support his family.
And as I got to know Barack, I realized that even though he'd grown up all the way across the country, he'd been brought up just like me.
Barack was raised by a single mother who struggled to pay the bills, and by grandparents who stepped in when she needed help.
Barack's grandmother started out as a secretary at a community bank...and she moved quickly up the ranks...but like so many women, she hit a glass ceiling.
And for years, men no more qualified than she was ? men she had actually trained ? were promoted up the ladder ahead of her, earning more and more money while Barack's family continued to scrape by.
But day after day, she kept on waking up at dawn to catch the bus...arriving at work before anyone else...giving her best without complaint or regret.
And she would often tell Barack, "So long as you kids do well, Bar, that's all that really matters."
Like so many American families, our families weren't asking for much.
They didn't begrudge anyone else's success or care that others had much more than they did...in fact, they admired it.
They simply believed in that fundamental American promise that, even if you don't start out with much, if you work hard and do what you're supposed to do, then you should be able to build a decent life for yourself and an even better life for your kids and grandkids.
That's how they raised us...that's what we learned from their example.
We learned about dignity and decency ? that how hard you work matters more than how much you make...that helping others means more than just getting ahead yourself.
We learned about honesty and integrity ? that the truth matters...that you don't take shortcuts or play by your own set of rules...and success doesn't count unless you earn it fair and square.
We learned about gratitude and humility ? that so many people had a hand in our success, from the teachers who inspired us to the janitors who kept our school clean...and we were taught to value everyone's contribution and treat everyone with respect.
Those are the values Barack and I ? and so many of you ? are trying to pass on to our own children.
That's who we are.
And standing before you four years ago, I knew that I didn't want any of that to change if Barack became President.
Well, today, after so many struggles and triumphs and moments that have tested my husband in ways I never could have imagined, I have seen firsthand that being president doesn't change who you are ? it reveals who you are.
You see, I've gotten to see up close and personal what being president really looks like.
And I've seen how the issues that come across a President's desk are always the hard ones ? the problems where no amount of data or numbers will get you to the right answer...the judgment calls where the stakes are so high, and there is no margin for error.
And as President, you can get all kinds of advice from all kinds of people.
But at the end of the day, when it comes time to make that decision, as President, all you have to guide you are your values, and your vision, and the life experiences that make you who you are.
So when it comes to rebuilding our economy, Barack is thinking about folks like my dad and like his grandmother.
He's thinking about the pride that comes from a hard day's work.
That's why he signed the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act to help women get equal pay for equal work.
That's why he cut taxes for working families and small businesses and fought to get the auto industry back on its feet.
That's how he brought our economy from the brink of collapse to creating jobs again ? jobs you can raise a family on, good jobs right here in the United States of America.
When it comes to the health of our families, Barack refused to listen to all those folks who told him to leave health reform for another day, another president.
He didn't care whether it was the easy thing to do politically ? that's not how he was raised ? he cared that it was the right thing to do.
He did it because he believes that here in America, our grandparents should be able to afford their medicine...our kids should be able to see a doctor when they're sick...and no one in this country should ever go broke because of an accident or illness.
And he believes that women are more than capable of making our own choices about our bodies and our health care...that's what my husband stands for.
When it comes to giving our kids the education they deserve, Barack knows that like me and like so many of you, he never could've attended college without financial aid.
And believe it or not, when we were first married, our combined monthly student loan bills were actually higher than our mortgage.
We were so young, so in love, and so in debt.
That's why Barack has fought so hard to increase student aid and keep interest rates down, because he wants every young person to fulfill their promise and be able to attend college without a mountain of debt.
So in the end, for Barack, these issues aren't political ? they're personal.
Because Barack knows what it means when a family struggles.
He knows what it means to want something more for your kids and grandkids.
Barack knows the American Dream because he's lived it...and he wants everyone in this country to have that same opportunity, no matter who we are, or where we're from, or what we look like, or who we love.
And he believes that when you've worked hard, and done well, and walked through that doorway of opportunity...you do not slam it shut behind you...you reach back, and you give other folks the same chances that helped you succeed.
So when people ask me whether being in the White House has changed my husband, I can honestly say that when it comes to his character, and his convictions, and his heart, Barack Obama is still the same man I fell in love with all those years ago.
He's the same man who started his career by turning down high paying jobs and instead working in struggling neighborhoods where a steel plant had shut down, fighting to rebuild those communities and get folks back to work...because for Barack, success isn't about how much money you make, it's about the difference you make in people's lives.
He's the same man who, when our girls were first born, would anxiously check their cribs every few minutes to ensure they were still breathing, proudly showing them off to everyone we knew.
That's the man who sits down with me and our girls for dinner nearly every night, patiently answering their questions about issues in the news, and strategizing about middle school friendships.
That's the man I see in those quiet moments late at night, hunched over his desk, poring over the letters people have sent him.
The letter from the father struggling to pay his bills...from the woman dying of cancer whose insurance company won't cover her care...from the young person with so much promise but so few opportunities.
I see the concern in his eyes...and I hear the determination in his voice as he tells me, "You won't believe what these folks are going through, Michelle...it's not right. We've got to keep working to fix this. We've got so much more to do."
I see how those stories ? our collection of struggles and hopes and dreams ? I see how that's what drives Barack Obama every single day.
And I didn't think it was possible, but today, I love my husband even more than I did four years ago...even more than I did 23 years ago, when we first met.
I love that he's never forgotten how he started.
I love that we can trust Barack to do what he says he's going to do, even when it's hard ? especially when it's hard.
I love that for Barack, there is no such thing as "us" and "them" ? he doesn't care whether you're a Democrat, a Republican, or none of the above...he knows that we all love our country...and he's always ready to listen to good ideas...he's always looking for the very best in everyone he meets.
And I love that even in the toughest moments, when we're all sweating it ? when we're worried that the bill won't pass, and it seems like all is lost ? Barack never lets himself get distracted by the chatter and the noise.
Just like his grandmother, he just keeps getting up and moving forward...with patience and wisdom, and courage and grace.
And he reminds me that we are playing a long game here...and that change is hard, and change is slow, and it never happens all at once.
But eventually we get there, we always do.
We get there because of folks like my Dad...folks like Barack's grandmother...men and women who said to themselves, "I may not have a chance to fulfill my dreams, but maybe my children will...maybe my grandchildren will."
So many of us stand here tonight because of their sacrifice, and longing, and steadfast love...because time and again, they swallowed their fears and doubts and did what was hard.
So today, when the challenges we face start to seem overwhelming ? or even impossible ? let us never forget that doing the impossible is the history of this nation...it's who we are as Americans...it's how this country was built.
And if our parents and grandparents could toil and struggle for us...if they could raise beams of steel to the sky, send a man to the moon, and connect the world with the touch of a button...then surely we can keep on sacrificing and building for our own kids and grandkids.
And if so many brave men and women could wear our country's uniform and sacrifice their lives for our most fundamental rights...then surely we can do our part as citizens of this great democracy to exercise those rights...surely, we can get to the polls and make our voices heard on Election Day.
If farmers and blacksmiths could win independence from an empire...if immigrants could leave behind everything they knew for a better life on our shores...if women could be dragged to jail for seeking the vote...if a generation could defeat a depression, and define greatness for all time...if a young preacher could lift us to the mountaintop with his righteous dream...and if proud Americans can be who they are and boldly stand at the altar with who they love...then surely, surely we can give everyone in this country a fair chance at that great American Dream.
Because in the end, more than anything else, that is the story of this country ? the story of unwavering hope grounded in unyielding struggle.
That is what has made my story, and Barack's story, and so many other American stories possible.
And I say all of this tonight not just as First Lady...and not just as a wife.
You see, at the end of the day, my most important title is still "mom-in-chief."
My daughters are still the heart of my heart and the center of my world.
But today, I have none of those worries from four years ago about whether Barack and I were doing what's best for our girls.
Because today, I know from experience that if I truly want to leave a better world for my daughters, and all our sons and daughters...if we want to give all our children a foundation for their dreams and opportunities worthy of their promise...if we want to give them that sense of limitless possibility ? that belief that here in America, there is always something better out there if you're willing to work for it...then we must work like never before...and we must once again come together and stand together for the man we can trust to keep moving this great country forward...my husband, our President, President Barack Obama.