07 March 2008

early reflections of my first campaign

i have never felt exhaustion such as this. i hurt in places i didn’t even know existed and i’m going to spend most of this weekend sleeping. next week, i’m on the phone with obama for america to find my next destination (or make my next destination). between naps this weekend, i have no doubt i will be reflecting a great deal on the events and experience of the past week, in my first campaign adventure, and more is sure to follow.

first and foremost, i’ve seen the absolute worst and the absolute best in people. i met hundreds of people, from all types of backgrounds: race, socio-economic, religious, gender, sexual orientation, political. i met and spoke with racists and hard right gop’s. i met and spoke with elderly african americans whose faith in this movement still moves me to tears. i met young people, old people (including a bitch who left me in texas), middle-aged people, children, and even dogs who believe in obama and what he can do for america.

i worked long and crazy hours side-by-side with a most wonderful group of campaigners (many of which are in the photo above. oh, and by the way, we had all been up for at least 24 hours when that photo was taken). fortunately for me, most of them actually live in los angeles so we’ll keep on a keepin’ on by meeting for pow-wow phone banking sessions, future campaign spots (hopefully evansville, indiana), happy hours, and maybe one or two not so happy hours.

rachel was the first person i saw when i arrived at headquarters. she was a constant and reliable resource and possesses more energy than any human being i know. her darling brother, russell, a jewelry hunter, was always cracking jokes while crunching the numbers that kept us all happy. lauren’s wisdom, patience, and love far surpasses that of a woman who celebrated her 23rd birthday in the midst of the madness. joe was always ready to fix any problem, no matter how far the drive, and introduced me to andrew sullivan. gail left me in texas. shayne is the reason i did this and i’ll never let him forget it. dan and his cutie patootie chicago accent is taking a break from the campaign (he’s been going and going and going). aaron is going to remember me for the rest of his life for a gift that, “made [his] month”. harlen helped me find answers to so many questions i had hoped to find while on this journey. sassy kathryn is a force to be reckoned with and i hope she stays on the campaign before returning to tv. victoria’s patience has inspired me to try to be better at it. maya’s signs and terrific humor kept me rallying when the need for a nap reared its ugly head. liz was my co-pilot in the big church van and shared my awe with the caucus at precinct 331. nick the economist, and already my friend, will most certainly be my sidekick in future campaigns. brookey, please stay in my life forever. and karsh. karsh has my poster and my unwavering admiration for the way he handled and drove the campaign in galveston; never given a dime by the campaign and selflessly donating his money, time, energy, and leadership, karsh was the heart of galveston for obama. thank you all for making this the most incredible adventure of my life. i will never forget you.

i’ve said it a dozen times already and i’ll likely say it a dozen more, i could not have been happier in galveston. it is home to the most wonderful, generous, kind, friendly, and happy people i have ever met in my life. though riddled with poverty and pockets of bigotry, the island is full of people who still see the world through rose-colored glasses (like me). they have inspired me with their devotion, hope, and kindness. they keep me believing, even after the disappointing results this week, that yes we can!

05 March 2008

i still can't believe the bitch left me in texas!

okay, i still cannot believe i was left in texas. i mean, really, who fucking does that?

i have spent the last several days working my ass off, getting almost no sleep, campaigning, running errands, knocking on doors, making phone calls, helping to make things happen. the only difficulty in all of this has been dealing with my cohort - who was rude, adverse,
unfocused, and a giant pain in my ass. and for those of you who know me, you know i do not fare well in situations where i am being attacked, especially when the attack is unprovoked and unjust.

and the bitch left me 1600 miles away from home without the simple courtesy of notice, even by way of a written letter. not that it would have made me feel much better to wake up to some farewell letter, but to say nothing at all, to just leave me wondering if she was off for a snack and would shortly return to begin our long journey home... who fucking does that?

now that it has worked itself out (a most generous and kind local photographer gave me a plane ticket to get home tomorrow), i am trying to look back to see where, when, and how she decided she'd just fuck me over without even a whisper of a hint. and i can't figure it out. yes, we have had our disagreements, and yes, there has been some tension, but again i ask myself (and you), what the fuck?

one of our last heated disagreements, in the wake of my very painful coffee burn (all down my chest which has been red and irritated since sunday), resulted in my pointed dictum that though i felt incredibly sorry for her husband for the abuse she showers atop his weary soul (remember, folks, i spent several days in a car with a woman who yelled at her husband, berated him, and spoke down to him as though he were some petulant child - over the phone in front of a complete stranger. god only knows what she says to him and how she treats him when no one else is around.), i was not going to act as his stand-in just because she needed to treat someone like shit.

she went on to tell me that the reason we don't get along is because we're too much alike. i am the first to admit that my list of faults is by no means short and i would never try to debunk any claim that i have a seriously short fuse on my temper and don't always use the best of judgment in situations where we'd all be better off if i could better bite my tongue, but i am nothing like her. she is disrespectful, grandiose, and so incredibly jealous of me that she couldn't stand the thought of having to spend three more days with me...

the past couple of days, i made a concerted effort to put some distance between us. i found my own way to and from headquarters, managed to get assigned to tasks that did not involve her, and only saw her in passing. i was cordial (friendly even), rarely spoke ill of her except to mention laughingly that she was a handful (even though she was clearly annoying others who asked me how awful it was to work with her), and i just let her be - even when she was chiding me unnecessarily. and then last night...

i was at headquarters till about midnight (she went "home" before i even returned from precinct 331's caucus), after which a large group of us went out for drinks. we were having a blast, drinking, laughing, taking pictures, she randomly showed up at the bar, all made up, looking sassy and ready to tear up the town. i complimented her immediately and told her to come join the party. then i turned back to the lively conversation i was in and never saw her again.

ya know, i always got the impression that she was envious when i was surrounded by people, laughing and having a good time. and when she tried to immerse herself, we all adjusted and brought her in, but it was different, more awkward, the energy changed, she tried to make it about her (and dammit, i want it to be about me - just kidding). i can't help it that i'm outoing, people like me, and i like people. people and me, we're a good match. people and my cohort, not a good match and she'd be the first to tell you as much.

the good news is that i never have to see her again, that i don't have to sit in her company, in a car, for three days, traveling 1600 miles across america's southwest. the good news is that i'm so much better off for being left behind. i know this. i feel it. i agree with it every single time someone says it. but i still can't get my arms around what kind of a person would leave their passenger stranded 1600 miles away from home without even a note. i'll say it again, who fucking does that?

(this blog cross posted at daily kos http://www.dailykos.com/story/2008/3/6/01941/31047/644/470229)

diary of a mad campaigner (part 7)

as it turns out, i’m not the one with mad campaigners disease. when i woke up this morning, i found all of my things piled up next to my bags and my cohort gone. i just assumed that she had gone out for coffee or a snack or perhaps was checking out some of the local sights. i mean, really, who would have even considered that she would have just left me in texas, without a note, a bon voyage, or even a word?

yep, that’s what happened. i mean, yeah, we haven’t been getting along. my friends both outside and inside the campaign can attest to the difficulties. my cohort even described herself as someone who doesn’t get along well with others. for the past several days, she has been verbally abusive to me, completely insensitive (for instance, she started yelling at me a few days ago when i spilled scalding coffee down my chest, burned myself like a mo-fo, and started freaking out and urgently requested that she pull over immediately), and her psychoanalysis of me has had me calling my friends back home asking them questions like, “am i a bad person? do i have low self-esteem? am i difficult to get along with?”

fortunately for me, i can stop worrying that i am unstable and a mean person. in fact, there is one person in the campaign (and i heart you, harlin) who has heard both sides. just this morning, as tears of shock and fear rolled down my face, he gave me a big bear hug and said, “you’re wonderful. she’s crazy. i’ve heard and seen it all and you can rest assured that this is not about you.” so my fellow campaigners are on the phones with the campaign, trying to find me some airline miles or a ride back to los angeles. i figure i’ll get home eventually and i’ve got the support and encouragement of a whole lot of wonderful people so yay for me!

oh and another round of tears is streamin down my face as i write this. susan, a local artist we’ve been working closely with these past days, just gave me a plane ticket. she called southwest, booked a flight back to los angeles tomorrow afternoon and handed me the confirmation number. see, i am a good person because good things are happening in spite of it all…
on to the real madness, yesterday’s critical tuesday primaries…

we lost texas by a teensy margin but seem to be even in the delegate distribution. camp clinton has regained some momentum and this will clearly be a fight to the bloody end. the thing is, we obama volunteers are geared up to keep fighting the good fight. as for me, personally, i have seen so much beauty, hope and wonder in the eyes of texas that there is no way i’m throwing in the towel and going back to life in corporate america (not just yet, anyway)…

as for my first ever election day from inside the campaign… my day began yesterday morning at 2:45am (i got one hour of sleep monday night). i had to report for duty at 3:30 to prepare the caucus packets to start handing out to our precinct captains, starting at 6am. i then spent the day doing voter protection (so glad that law degree is getting some use), fielding calls about all kinds of craziness going on at the polls, and spent the evening driving around to pick up elderly folks to drive them to caucus.

while fielding the voter protection calls, i heard all kinds of crazy stories about voters being turned away, crazed clinton fans accosting obama voters, voters being sent on wild goose chases, broken voting machines, insufficient staffing, and everything else you can imagine. and i thought (perhaps hoped is more apt) the day would go off without a hitch for all of us out-of-state lawyers… the worst part, however, was when i heard that camp clinton was telling the news that obama fraud was going on in the caucus locations. i don’t know about fraud, necessarily. there were just a lot of people who didn’t know the rules, acting like jackasses and giving out a whole lot of misinformation (lotsa people think i’m way too na├»ve for thinking this way, but i do love my rose colored glasses).

as for the loss of our county (galveston), it turns out that rush limbaugh’s request for republicans to get to the polls to vote for clinton because “we need to bloody obama up a bit” totally turned the results upside down. one third of the clinton votes in our county were cast by repugs. unbelievable!

last night, we volunteers celebrated our hard work with a coupla cocktails and headed off to either go home or head on to the next campaign. there are a few of us in the office today, packing everything up, returning furniture, and getting things in order to move forward. we are all very much fired up to keep marching onward. we know in our hearts that obama will be our next president. we just have to keep working hard, holding on to our faith, and believing that YES WE CAN!

this blog is cross posted at daily kos

03 March 2008

it's raining on the campaign trail

it’s been a rainy day in galveston but it hasn’t deterred any of us (even my melting ass) from getting out to get the vote out.

nick and i paired up today to do a visibility project in a neighboring town. en route, we got a call to meet up with some fellow volunteers in order to beef up the impact. while we were waiting, nick and i decided to grab a bite of barbeque at “t-bone tom’s” (707 hwy 146 in kemah, texas). while sitting at our table philosophizing about the world and what we’re going to do with our lives (sidenote: though i am nearly a decade older than nick, we are both serendipitously at a loss for what we want to be when we grow up), a waitress named brenda walked up and dropped a $20 bill on our table.

“what’s this for?” we asked.

“i’m not sure,” she responded. “a gentleman who asked to remain anonymous wanted me to bring this over to y’all.”

“is it because we are obama supporters?” i asked. i mean, by now y’all must realize that i’m wearing the uniform of a most devoted crusader (nick too).

“i have no idea,” she replied.

nick and i both looked at each other, jaws on the table. i mean, really, isn’t that the most random thing ever? so surprised by this random act of generosity, we were speechless (a rarity for both nick and myself). just about the time we recovered from our pleasant surprise, brenda returned to our table and dropped another $15 between us.

“y’all are awfully popular in here.” we begged her to tell us who was giving us the money and asked that she make sure the donor know that we were going to be passing the funds on to the campaign. she promised she would do so. she returned shortly thereafter to ask us if we had noticed the gentleman in the cowboy hat. being californians, nick and i always notice the people in the cowboy hats, but not enough to be able to chase him down and thank him for his generosity.

for a state and a part of the country the media touts as arrogant, benighted, and closed-minded, i have consistently been surprised by the generosity, kindness and thoughtfulness of the southeastern texans. thank you texas for making me feel so welcome!

diary of a mad campaigner (part 6 in a series)

i am quickly learning that there is no sleep in campaigning, even for the lowliest of volunteers (like me). from the first break of dawn till the wee hours of the morning, there still isn’t enough time to get everything done. here in galveston, team obama is short-staffed, over-worked, and the amount of stuff we still need to do before tomorrow’s election is overwhelming.

yesterday was a new sort of adventure for me because i canvassed in a nearby town, made up of a whole lot of republicans and republican-leaning independents. it didn’t keep me from knocking on their doors and while most of them were incredibly nice, i ran into a racist who insisted obama was a muslim who was going to give free reign to all muslim americans to kill whoever and whenever they wanted. i also ran into a republican who thinks there is nothing wrong with our country, that the rest of the world is working alongside the u.s., happily pluggin’ along, fighting the good fight for democracy around the world. needless to say, i disagree.

yesterday was a tough day for me. i kept a smile on my face, even as i stood on his doorstep and listened to the racist go off on how obama is going to destroy our country. i said my piece, remained calm, debated as well as i could, and let him have his rant. the one thing that kept me going was the knowledge that i was able to sway a few undecided voters.

last night, after walking a bazillion miles of rough republican terrain yesterday, it was back to headquarters to tally the date for our internal polling numbers. we had a 1 am pow-wow to go over the internal polling numbers (team obama knocked on more than 3700 doors in galveston and the surrounding cities this past weekend) and what we could expect from the next two days. first and foremost, no sleep. after that, visibility, canvassing, coordinating our precinct teams, assigning election day tasks and training for tomorrow night’s caucus.

with less than 24 hours till polls open here in texas, the natives are restless, the volunteers from afar are even more restless, and we’re all scrambling to get the job done for obama and america.

this blog is cross posted at daily kos

02 March 2008

diary of a mad campaigner (part 5 in a series)

wow, i don’t even know that i can figure out where to begin…

yesterday was my first day of actual campaigning and it was one of the best days of my life. i’m
equal parts exhausted and exhilarated, and equal parts surprised but unsurprised.

for the sake of chronology, i should probably mention that my cohort and i arrived in galveston late friday night/saturday morning, around 2 am. we checked into a motel on the coastline and crashed out for a wee bit of sleep before reporting for duty this morning.

galveston, for those of you who don’t know, is an island off the coast of texas, about 40 miles south of houston. it served as the largest port in the u.s. prior to the 1900 hurricane that nearly decimated the city and once served as the center of the slave trade back in its heyday. it is also incredibly charming, surprisingly beautiful, intriguing as all get out, and home to the most wonderful people i’ve ever had the privilege of meeting.

that being said, i have to give a special shout out to texas and texans, who have, in every possible way, defied every stereotype the media (as well as most texans i’ve ever met) has portrayed. the texans i’ve met on this trip (all 800 miles worth of them) have been friendly, warm, inviting, conversational, interesting, and kind. i have a new respect for texas and texans. for real.

my cohort and i reported for duty at 9 am yesterday morning at obama’s headquarters on broadway at 21st street. the space was chock full of obama enthusiasts, many of whom came from california, as well as many other states, to do what my cohort and i are doing. we are energetic, dedicted, and working our asses off for the sake of a change in the world.
first order of business, canvassing.

canvassing means that my cohort and i were given a very long list of names and addresses within a fairly small area, called a precinct. we were to walk the neighborhood, knock on the doors of the people on the list, and remind them to vote on tuesday, attend a caucus tuesday night, offer a ride to the polling stations, and answer any questions they may have about the process or the candidate.

while walking streets in a strange town probably doesn’t sound all that appealing on its face, it was actually exhilarating. i met dozens of people, had dozens of conversations about barack obama and why i traveled all the way from los angeles to campaign for him on my own dime, and heard dozens of others’ stories about why they are or why they aren’t voting for him. i talked to people about the issues most important to them and how difficult a decision it’s been trying to choose between clinton and obama. i canvassed from about 10 am to about 5pm. i’m sunburned, my body is weary, i can feel exhaustion in every muscle, bone, and tendon, and i can’t wait to get started again.

after the canvassing ended, i went back to headquarters, made phone calls for a couple of hours, and then headed downtown for an art-walk with several other campaigners i met throughout the day. the art walk was an absolute blast! we had a table set up outside one of the galleries of a fellow obama supporter, directly across the street from the gallery camp clinton was set up. i stood on the sidewalk with my clipboard, asking everyone who walked by, “have y’all voted? would you mind telling me who you voted for?”

i heard every single possible response. most were favorable, many were not. one particularly grumpy old man responded that he wasn’t voting because, “you’ve got a thief over there and a dumb ass over here.” huh, really? hillary is a thief? obama is a dumbass? i couldn’t imagine any thinking american using either of those adjectives to describe anyone other than the village idiot and his cronies who currently resides in the white house…

i campaigned yesterday for 14 hours and i cannot wait to do it again… i’ve never in my life felt like i was truly part of something so world changing, so impactful, so extraordinary. and i can’t imagine a better group of dedicated, intelligent, thought-provoking people to be taking this journey with. i really can’t.

this blog cross posted at daily kos.