Thursday, December 27, 2007

A Regular Blog Post?

Well, I thought I had something to say, but it turns out I don't.

So I'll make one of those really annoying and boring blog posts that tells people about nothing interesting at all. Today, after 4 days off, I was back at work. It was actually kind of a relief, except for the getting up at 730 part. Ok, so I hit snooze until 8. When I was unemployed, the worst part was the general lack of anything structured to do. Of course now I have the opposite - a complete lack of anything unstructured to do, or, more accurately, a lack of unstructured time. I didn't realize how absolutely terrifying it is to not have any structure until I did - turns out I'm not very good at it. I should have learned this at Evergreen, and kind of did, but it really comes home to roost when I went from 6 months of no work to nothing but work. I work best under a deadline, which also may explain why I perform best after leaving assignments untouched until the night before they're due. I like me some pressure.

Well, that's about all the cliche'd introspection I feel like presenting to the world for the moment. Or at least to the four of you who read this. ;) Couldn't leave a blog post this boring without an emoticon.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Merry Christmas

It's snowing. In Seattle. On Christmas. This is simply ridiculous. It almost definitely means that my friends won't (be able to?) drive across the lake to watch a movie tonight, but who knows. I don't remember the last time it actually snowed ON Christmas.

I have to admit, my head's in a pretty weird place right now. Every year, someone seems to give me an incredibly depressing book to read just before Christmas. This year, it was The Kite Runner. Brie just came in and told me, "I'm never giving you another book." I barely put it down since she gave it to me, Sunday afternoon.

Five years ago, when Riley was still at Lake Tahoe and we all went there for Christmas, I was reading American Gods. I remember going out in the middle of the night, and walking up into the woods a little ways. It was bright the way snow makes the night bright. Everything contrasted. It was absolutely terrifying.

This is a pretty crappy Christmas post. I think these are supposed to be warm and toasty and full of cheer. I'm not very good at cheer. I personally prefer melancholy, so I'll see if I can't negotiate the middle and go with a factual update.

Due to some unforeseen expenses, I find myself about to enter the poorhouse early. The result is that, unless my boss can find room in the budget to pay me for a few weeks, I'm gonna have to leave the campaign before the caucus. Which sucks. But I'm holding out hope that something will happen.

When we get back from Christmas break (all four days of it, which is an eternity compared to what they get in Iowa), we'll be exactly one week from the first contest. Iowa, in the latest census, has a population of 2,900,000 or thereabouts. Approximately 130,000 of them are expected to turn out for the democratic caucus, and somewhere around 80,000 for the republican version. There's plenty of wiggle room after Iowa, of course, but the likelihood seems that around 200,000 people are going to choose the set of next presidential candidates. Pretty strange to think of, really.

And now it's snowing in Seattle. And sticking. It's almost like I'm back in Colorado, or New England, at Christmas. I guess I'm glad that if I have to be subjected to winter, at least I get snow. It is beautiful when it's falling, before it turns brown from exhaust, or turns to slush or crystallizes into a layer of jagged ice. I guess you can say that about almost anything new, really. It comes in shiny and clean and then something makes a mess of it and then you lose interest, and eventually it becomes a nuissance and you just want it gone. But I won't have to be here for that part. I'll be here to watch it fall silently, stick to the ground, coat the bare red trunk of the big magnolia that still has green leaves. I'll go out and throw a snowball to Henry, and watch him try to find it, four legs each going its own direction. And then tomorrow, I'll get on a plane, and go back to Vegas. On Thursday, I'll go back to work. I'll go back not knowing if I'll be there for a month or a week, but I'll go back and it'll be one week till Iowa, one week till we actually have something tangible to work with, or through, or against. One week until we see if the country really wants to change, or whether the racists and the nostaligists and the apologists and the corporate lobbyists get their candidate, or whether the rest of us get ours. And I don't know what or where or for how long my role will be, but I do know this much: for the first time in my adult life, I'll be looking forward to returning to work. And I won't have to watch the snow turn dirty and it won't melt into the bottom of my boots. It'll just stay a white Christmas, soft, silent, clean.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

And a late addition

Second Encounter

I realize that blogs are supposed to be updated more often.

I could request some sort of dispensation based on the number of hours worked, or my general energy level after 13 hour days, but really I just haven't felt the motivation to write.

The writer's strike meant that the debate Monday was canceled, which meant a free day, which meant we got a bonus stop on the way through. Two small events to build. More like one tiny event, and one so small (in the numbers sense) that it can't even be called building from a field perspective. Not that that made either less important, or less exciting.

There was a lot of hustle and bustle to get the high school interns to the library. Four schools. Conversations with 30 parents, permission slips, text message coordination, and rides to arrange. I bought a 36" pizza to feed them while they waited in line outside the library.

"Hey, when's Barack coming back," the pizza guy asked me.

"He's here right now."

"What, he's here? Where?"

"Across the street at the library."

"Hey, tell him if he comes here, I'll give him a free slice of pizza."

They let staff in first. We stood in the library hallway. Almost all of us were in our red shirts, the ones from the debate. I'm not entirely sure why, since we were completely closed off from the rest of the building, but we were all using our inside voices. When they started us moving, we went down the stairs, and into another room. It was stuffy, and there were thick black curtains on both sides, and doors at both ends.

For some reason, half of the group was still using inside voices. Members of the advance team were swirling around. "When the Senator comes in, we're not gonna mob him, ok?" Until he said it, I wouldn't have thought of it. Maybe it happened somewhere else. Who knows. There were Secret Service guys at both doors.

It was stuffy, and the high school students I brought, who were still standing outside, kept texting me to tell me that their fingers were gonna fall off. It ain't Iowa or New Hampshire, but it turns out that it does get kinda chilly here.

Every time the door opened, we all turned, and every time it was someone else from advance, or political, or communications. Then it opened and Barack came in. This time I wasn't at the end of a 20 hour day. I think he's not much different in physical size from me, and if you could lope at a walking pace, that's how he came in. Smooth and easy. "Hey hey, what's going on?" I'll be honest, I'm pretty sure he said something like, "so here're my people," but I was kind of too awestruck to really record it cleanly. The important part is that he was a real person. He called Luis up so he could personally wish him a happy birthday. He grinned. When he talked to us, he talked to us with just the right mix of humanity and invulnerability. "I know you guys are working hard. I know you're eating pizza every night. I know you need sleep, and you're not getting it. And I also know what a great job you're doing. Trust me. I see it. We're up against opponents who have a lot of strength, but there's no substitute for enthusiasm. I know how hard you're all working, and I make you this promise. I'll do my part. You keep it up here. I really believe we're gonna win this. Now come on. Let's take some pictures. We've got work to do."

We went up, a region at a time, and took a photo. He should our hands again. There was an episode of The West Wing where Alan Alda can't shake hands any more, because his is so chapped and torn up from all the shaking. Barack shook my hand softly, but not limply or weakly. Just enough press to let me know he was there, and I'm sure carefully constructed to save his hand.

He threw his fist in the air as he headed out to the auditorium. "Fired Up?"

"Ready to Go!"

And then it was time to get back to work.

Monday, December 3, 2007

Barack Obama, Ok

My 4 year old nephew isn't exactly happy to see me and my little brother leave at the end of a visit. He's always excited for us to arrive, but apparently apprehensive about us leaving before we're even there.

Just before we arrived at Thanksgiving, he asked my mom, holding up all five fingers on one hand, why "Uncle Ev and Uncle Rye have to leave after this many days?"

First my mom made sure he understood which days they were, and confirmed that it was indeed five days, as he had indicated. Always the educator.

Then she told him, "Riley has to go home to go to school, and Ev has to go back to Vegas to help get Barack Obama elected as President."
"President of the United States of America?"
"Yes, President of the United States of America."
"But Nan, we already have a President."
"And who is that Ibra?"
"Jed Bartlett is the President." If you've never met my nephew, you don't know the complete certainty with which he presents things. There are not gray areas. Of course, he's watched the West Wing since he was 1, so it's not an unreasonable assumption. And considering that my parents, like the rest of sane America, use the show as an escapist fantasy, it's perfectly fair. I wish it were true. Apparently for him, it is.
"Well honey, President is a job that people share. Now, Jed Bartlett is President, but it's almost someone else's turn. And Ev thinks that Barack Obama should be the next President."
"Why Nan?"
"Well, because Barack Obama wants to take care of America." (It's probably important to note that I'm completely fabricating this portion of the conversation. It's based on what I imagine the interaction was between my mom and my nephew at this stage of the conversation, not any objective reality).
"Oh. What about Jed Bartlett?"
"He thinks it's a good idea, too."
I'm told my nephew marinated on this for a minute, no doubt looking pensive as only a 4 year old can. "Barack Obama, President of the United States of America. Ok."

It might not be the most influential endorsement Barack gets, but as far as I'm concerned it's the best one.