Tag Archives: campaign

Avoiding Awkwardness

Last week when I saw her briefly (she brought me homemade vegan pumpkin cheesecake!), C mentioned wanting me to try internal family systems therapy.  Apparently she’d gone to a seminar about it, or a seminar where it was discussed, or something.  She mentioned she’d met several therapists from my town that do that kind of therapy, but all of them were men.  She’s going to try to find out if they can refer us to any women.

Of course, I don’t know how the hell I’d get there.  My city councilor is still trying to figure out the bus issue for me, but they’re telling him my street never had a stop, which is bullshit.  I’d qualify for paratransit, but it costs two to three times what the regular bus does.  Sorry, but how is that equal accessibility for disabled people.  I literally can’t afford those few extra dollars.   (I’m too embarrassed to tell my city councilor that, though.)

Anyway, yesterday and today, we had two volunteers, husband and wife, come in for some shifts, and the wife mentioned that they’re both therapists.  Because I’m a little bit of a creeper, I Googled them–and he does IFS therapy.  Given that this is a small town, it wouldn’t surprise me at all if he was one of the ones C met at this seminar.

How fucking awkward would THAT be?  I mean, the guy called me brilliant yesterday.  I really like working on the campaign because it makes me feel competent.  I can be someone other than fucked-up, broken, dysfunctional, crazy Kyra who can’t get her life together at all.  Instead, I’m smart and competent Kyra who can run an office full of volunteers for 14 hours and keep it all together.  I like that role better, even though I know it’s a very time-limited role.  (Not because the election’s almost over, but because I know I can’t sustain it for very long.)

So I can’t let my work life and my dysfunctional life intersect at all.  This campaign is almost over, but in a small town, you run into the same volunteers on campaign after campaign.  It’s a big part of why I blog anonymously–I need to keep these parts of my life separate.  I think I’m going to email C, give her this guy’s name, and ask her not to use my name if she calls this guy to ask for a recommendation for a female IFS therapist.  I’m probably being slightly paranoid, but still….

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Today I got to go to a meet and greet with Elizabeth Warren, Martha Coakley (gov candidate), and Maura Healey (AG candidate).  It was pretty great.  I’ve heard Senator Warren speak before, of course, but never so up close and personal.  I even got to shake her hand.  I wanted to get a picture with her, but there wasn’t a chance because I had to run around and do campaign stuff.

One of the guys they brought in from Boston was freaking out about the event this morning.  We weren’t allowed to push it until this afternoon–the campaign was suspended for a little while following Mayor Menino’s death, and there was a big rally in another city fairly close that we didn’t want to take people away from.  So we couldn’t push people toward our event until 6 hours before it started, and he was afraid nobody would show up.  But this is a very liberal/progressive town, and Elizabeth’s status is like unto God’s.  Say her name around here, and 200 people will show up easy.  Which is what we told him, and that’s exactly what happened.

Two old friends of mine from the Obama campaign were at the event, and I got to hang out with them while my bosses were drinking.  A reporter from the local paper overheard me talking about how I loved Maura because the first event of hers I went to was a house party around disability issues, and she managed to talk about people with disabilities without making me want to throw things, which is exceedingly rare.  Apparently the reporter thought that was a good story and asked if she could interview me.  So maybe I’ll be in the paper, talking about disability stuff, which would be cool.  It did get a little awkward because she asked about my specific disability.  I just said that I have a severe autoimmune disorder that affects multiple systems and sometimes causes mobility impairment.  I put in a plug for invisible illnesses too: “I don’t always need the cane, so my disability is often invisible, which makes it hard to access disability services.”

Then I also got interviewed by the campaign’s videographer.  They’re putting together a video about why it’s important for people to get out and vote, so I talked about that, why I support Martha, and what I’ll be doing on election day.  That’ll probably just go out on the campaign website, Facebook, and maybe Twitter.

After the event, we still had to go back to the office and enter data because the HQ staff are insisting it has to be entered by midnight every night.  That sounds like it’s not that hard, but we knocked around 700 doors today, and each of those results has to be entered.  I was running the whole office for most of the day today, so I got way behind on data.  Every time I’d sit down to enter data, another volunteer would come in or someone would call with a question or I’d have to cut new turf or phone lists.  I barely had time to use the bathroom, let alone enter stacks of data.

Then a field organizer from another part of our region wanted me to enter his data too.  While I was at our meet and greet.  He said, “Well, if I email to to you, can you do it after the event?”  I wanted to be like, “Bitch plz.  I cannot do everything for this region all by myself.”  Instead, I just said, “Not tonight, I’m way behind on my data.  Sorry.”  I’m kind of proud of myself for being able to set a boundary, even though it’s a small one.  It’s really hard for me because I feel like if I refuse to do anything anyone asks of me, I don’t deserve to exist and should just kill myself.  But the regional field director has just been telling all the staff in our area, “If you can’t get to something, just delegate it to Kyra.”  I mean, I appreciate the trust and all, but I’m only one person who can only handle so much.  I could never get the hang of juggling in elementary school PE class.

Best part of the day, after the event, when we were entering data, one of my bosses got a packet from a new volunteer.  She left us detailed notes about basically everything people said to her, which is unnecessary and annoying to data people.

HIM: “God, I fucking hate volunteers.”
ME: “Hi, I’m Kyra, and I’m a volunteer.”
HIM: “Not you.  You’re, like, a staff volunteer.”

That’s basically true.  I work almost as many hours, and I have the same level of Votebuilder access as the field organizers.  Regular volunteers just assume I’m staff, and Martha knows my name.  But it’s kind of nice to know they think of me that way because I constantly feel inferior to them.  I mean, of my three bosses, one works for Elizabeth Warren, one works for a state senator, and the third is on his tenth political campaign.  Next to them, I feel stupid and inexperienced.  Maybe they don’t see me that way, though.  I hope.

Okay.  Time for a long, hot bath, where I’ll reread Game of Thrones, and then bed.  I get to do this all over again tomorrow.

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In which I ramble about my job to distract from my misery

In case you wondered what I do all day:

Actually, lately I can’t do a lot of door-knocking because of my mobility issues, but I train interns and volunteers on how to canvass.  Occasionally I’m able to get out and knock doors for a little while.

I also do a lot of the organizational stuff behind canvassing.  Those clipboards in the video?  Someone has to assemble the packets that go on them.  First, I do what’s called cutting turf.  There are certain people that the campaign wants us to reach out to–they’re called targets.  They vary based on the stage of the campaign, the area, and the goals.  It’s always Democrats and sometimes unaffiliated voters who lean Democrat.  (Massachusetts has the greatest percentage of voters who aren’t affiliated with a party of any state.)  Sometimes we target people who almost always vote, but mostly we target people who vote sporadically so that we can urge them to vote.  (The perfect/excellent/likely voters are probably going to vote even if we don’t talk to them.)  So I get on Votebuilder, the data management system used by pretty much every Democratic campaign, and pull a list of those people.  Often, HQ will give us particular wards or precincts they want us to work on in particular towns, so I narrow my list to just those people.  Then I get a map, and each house is a little dot.  Depending on our goals and the number of canvassers we’re expecting, I have to cut turfs anywhere between 40 and 120 doors.  You want the houses to be close together so it’s easy for the canvassers to walk, and if you can, you want to avoid steep hills and long driveways because they slow people down.  In some places, you also have to beware of sketchy neighborhoods.

I can’t take a screenshot from Votebuilder because it’s got all kinds of private information, so I created a similar image.
turfcutting1

This is what it looks like when I first start cutting a turf.  It’s a street map, and all the houses are dots.  (And yes, this is my town, and it really does have a park called Mary Brown’s Dingle.  I have not been able to find out why.  New England is weird, man.)

turfcutting2

This is what it looks like to cut a turf, only in Votebuilder, the lines are nice and straight instead of looking like they were drawn by a four-year-old.  I’m not an artist, okay?  Basically, I have to make sure that each turf (one outlined in red, the other in blue) have roughly equal numbers of doors and are reasonably easy to walk.

I spend an absurd amount of time every day doing this.  It’s not difficult, but it’s fiddly and labor-intensive.  And don’t get me started on how labor-intensive it is to get our printer to work.

We also make a lot of phone calls, so I have to cut the lists for those, too.  That’s a similar process but without the maps, so it goes a lot quicker.

After canvasses and phone banks, all that data has to get entered into Votebuilder so all the campaign staff know who we’ve talked to and what they told us.  A lot of that gets done automatically–we try to get canvassers to use a smartphone app called miniVAN (VAN is another name for Votebuilder), which lets them record their results and instantly sync it to our Votebuilder database.  Most of our phone banks are done online, either through Votebuilder’s virtual phone banks or through an awesome predictive dialer called HubDialer, which lets us talk to 5-6 times more voters in the same amount of time.  But we do have canvassers without smartphones and phone bankers without laptops, so I end up with big stacks of data.  The results of each call or door has to be entered manually.  Again, labor-intensive and fiddly, but not difficult.

I also make a lot of recruitment calls (asking people to volunteer) and confirmation calls (calling people who’ve signed up to volunteer to make sure they’re still coming).  I collate data–campaigns are obsessed with metrics, and you have to report in frequently.  It wouldn’t surprise me if they added “milligrams of caffeine consumed” and “cumulative sleep debt” to our metrics–they want to know every single detail, as long as it can be numericized.  (Is that even a word?  Whatevs.)

Plus, because my boss’s boss knows about my hatred of lawn signs, he thought it would be hilarious to make me the “yard sign coordinator” for our entire region.  That means any time someone requests a yard sign, the call or email gets forward to me.  I have to act like yard signs are awesome and say how sorry I am that we just gave away our last one because they’re going like hotcakes.  “But there are lots of other ways you can help our Democratic ticket!” I tell them.  “One really great way is to spend a couple hours knocking on doors.  Would you be able to join us on Election Day?”  Inevitably, they won’t–they just want to “help” the candidates passively.  I swear to you, my boss did this entirely for his own amusement.

So yeah, this is the stuff I spend 14 hours a day doing.  It ain’t like campaigns on The West Wing or anything–not as romantic as some people think it is.  It’s probably not actually interesting to anyone but me, but I needed a distraction tonight.  So you get 1000 words about it.

biden_dealwithit2
(When will I ever not find an excuse for a Joe Biden gif?  Never, that’s when.)

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existential exhaustion

Last night, I dreamed that I was at work on Election Day, and my bosses kept giving me more and more stuff to do, and I just couldn’t keep up with all of it.  A lot of it was stuff I’d never done and didn’t know how to do, and no one would teach me how or help me at all.  Then we lost the election, and they were all angry at me and said it was all my fault.  Then I had to walk home.  It was cold, and I kept falling down because my legs wouldn’t work.  I had to crawl part of the way.  When I finally got home, the power was out, and somebody from the power company was yelling at me for being useless and not paying my bills.

I mean, I also dreamed that I signed Mary Poppins up for a canvass shift, so clearly my brain is kind of nuts.

But the first dream…it’s pretty clear what that’s about.  No need for interpretation there.  It’s how I feel about myself: I’m a failure at everything, my life is falling apart, everybody either already hates me or is going to hate me when they find out what a fuck-up I am, and even my body won’t do what I need it to.  I’m going to be left alone in the dark and the cold because I’m an unlovable failure.

I’m just so tired of fighting so hard and never getting anywhere.  I’m just so tired of everything.  I don’t want to do it anymore.

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Stress

All the pre-election stress is kind of getting to me right now, unfortunately.

I got through a very long day, but I didn’t finish all the things I needed to finish.  I’ve already got a list of things to do tomorrow that I know I won’t get through, and I know my RFD and FO are just going to keep adding more and more to it.  And EVERYTHING is top priority.  They’re throwing things at me constantly.  One will ask me to do something that needs to be done ASAP, so I’ll stop what I was already working on to do the new task.  Then the other will ask me when I’m going to be finished with the first task.

To be fair, they’re not angry or mean about it or anything, and they’re working just as hard too.  And I think some of it’s due to my utter lack of working memory–I honestly cannot hold more than one thing in my mind at once without things falling through the cracks, and I’m being asked to hold 15 things in mind at once.

There’s also a power bill I can’t pay.  And I don’t know how I’m going to pay it next month either.  Every month, I’m just getting farther and farther underwater.

And I’m really triggered by a discussion on a forum that got taken over rape apologists who think it’s perfectly acceptable to make women totally responsible for rape prevention.  Seriously, if you ever feel the need to mansplain rape prevention, just fucking don’t.  And the mods/admins won’t do anything about it.  They don’t care that this is creating a hostile, triggering environment for survivors of abuse and rape.

And I’m pretty sure my PMDD is kicking in.

Right now I just want to do something, anything, to turn off all these fucking feelings.  I want to cut or OD or binge and purge, or something.  Just make it stop.

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Things Political Organizers Want You to Know

So, most of my first of ten 14-hour days is almost over.  I handled it a lot better than I thought I would, especially considering I only got about 4 hours of sleep last night.  (In that respect, caffeine helps.)  I’m fatigued and shaky now, even though I’ve spent all day sitting down, but that’s okay.  Hopefully I’ll get some better sleep tonight.

So, since I can’t rant at people on the phone, I have a rant about things that drive organizers crazy/things we want you to know.  (And by “organizers” and “we,” I basically mean me, although I know a lot of these things drive other organizers crazy too.)

  • We’re actually not all that excited about knocking on your door or calling you at home.  In fact, a lot of volunteers and even paid organizers have perennial anxiety about it.  I mean, it’s everything most of us are taught not to do in polite society: don’t bother people, don’t talk to strangers, don’t talk about politics.  We do this because we believe it’s important to get people engaged with the electoral process.  In the 2012 election, only 57.5% of registered voters actually voted.  In the 2010 midterms, it was only 42%.  We do this job because we truly believe that our government will work better and represent us more accurately if more people get out and vote.
  • There are also statistical reasons we get up in your business before elections.  We have studies that show people are mostly likely to vote if someone knocks on their door and talks to them face-to-face.  Phone calls also increase the likelihood that someone will get out and vote, although not as much as face-to-face contact.  We also have studies that show that the more times someone is contacted, the more likely they are to vote.  With inconsistent voters (people who vote in some elections but not every one), it takes an average of three contacts to ensure that they vote.  So yes, it’s probably annoying to get a bunch of calls from us, but we do it because it works.  There’s math and science and stuff.
  • But we really are sorry we annoy you.  We don’t mean to.  We just believe in our candidates so much and value your vote so much that we really want to make sure you do go and vote.  Think of it this way: your vote is your voice, and we really want to hear your vote.  When we call you a bunch of times, it’s because you’re important and we value you.
  • Please be nice to us.  Really, we’re nice people.
  • Even if you don’t want to talk to us, you can still be nice.  It’s not that hard, I promise.  I’m basically an asshole, so if I can get cussed out and say, “Okay, well, you have a nice day,” then you can be polite too.  If you don’t want any more calls, all you have to do is say, “Please take me off your list.”  We’ll do it for you, even if you don’t yell or swear.  We have a little checkbox on our computer and everything!  We’ll still think you’re serious and take you off even if you’re polite about it.  (I actually think it’s an FCC regulation, but even if it weren’t, we’d still do it for you.)
  • Also, you don’t have to lie to us if you don’t want to talk to us.  It’s really okay, and we’re not going to force you to listen.  You can just say, “Thanks, but I’m really not interested.”  Don’t say, “Hang on” and then hang up.  Then I’m sitting there for two or three minutes thinking you’re going to get the person I asked for, in which time I could’ve made two or three other calls.  When you’re trying (as a team) to call 25,000 people every night, two or three minutes really does make a difference.
  • If I ask for your spouse and you yell to them, “It’s somebody from Jane Smith’s campaign,” to them, we can hear you.  We can also hear your spouse when they yell, “I don’t want to talk to them.”  So when you come back and tell me, “Oh, s/he’s asleep/in the shower/not home,” I’m going to laugh at you as soon as you hang up.
  • When I say, “Hi, my name is Kyra, and I’m a volunteer for Jane Smith’s campaign,” you can just tell me that you don’t support my candidate.  You don’t need to yell, “Awww, SHIT!” and then hang up the phone, or say, “Joe Smith sucks” and then hang up the phone.  You could just say, “Thanks, but I’m voting for John Jones instead.”  I won’t even be offended, even if I think you’re wrong.  I get calls from candidates I don’t like too, and sometimes I want to tell them what I think of their candidate, which generally involves a lot of swear words.  But you know what?  I don’t.  Callers are people too, and they’re just doing their job.  Most of them don’t even get paid for it; they do it because they genuinely believe in their candidate.  So if I can politely inform them that I won’t vote for their candidate, you can too.
  • If you really like my candidate, tell me!  Canvassers and phone bankers really like to engage with enthusiastic voters.  Generally, we do this because we’re enthusiastic about the candidate too, but sometimes it can get exhausting and demoralizing.  Enthusiastic voters give us a little cheering up.
  • We also like it when you’re kind to us.  Little things make a big difference.  For example, my intro on calls is always, “Hi, my name is Kyra, and I’m a volunteer with Jane Smith’s campaign.  How are you doing tonight?”  I really appreciate it when people also ask how I’m doing.  It’s also nice at the end of the call when people say, “Have a nice night” or thank me for the work I’m doing.  I always make it a point to say these things when other phone bankers call me, even if I don’t agree with their issue or candidate.  Kindness, people.  It makes the world go ’round.
  • We like to hear a little bit of your story about why you’re supporting the candidate (e.g., “I’m a schoolteacher, and I’m supporting her because she wants to guarantee universal preschool”), but I really don’t need your whole life story.  It may sound cold, but I don’t have the time to make a personal connection when I’m canvassing or phone banking.  As I mentioned earlier, we often have huge goals for the number of people to talk to, and we can’t meet those goals if we have heart-to-heart conversations with a lot of voters.
  • Don’t tell us how we should be running the campaign.  Seriously, don’t.  We have a campaign manager for that, and consultants, and a field director.  These are people who have gone to school to study this stuff, and they have a lot of experience on a lot of campaigns.  We have studies and data that tell us what works and what doesn’t.  Also, with the rapid pace of technological advancement, the best ways to reach voters are constantly expanding and changing.  We base the decisions on how to run the campaign on lots and lots and lots of data.  Also, the person who just knocked on your door or called you is probably a volunteer, and we have no say in those decisions.
  • We can’t control the ads that other candidates or PAC’s put out.  I’m really sorry you think our opponent’s ads are too negative and are dragging down the tone of the campaign.  I happen to agree with you.  But what, exactly, do you think I can do about it?
  • I also can’t tell you why any other campaign is running their campaign the way they do.  I don’t have access to their data and internal numbers.  If I’m calling you on Election Day, I don’t know what the results are until they’re officially released.  I am not psychically connected to my campaign manager, any other campaign managers, or voting machines.
  • I won’t tell you anything about our internal numbers.  That data is confidential.  No, I’m not kidding.  If we wanted everybody to have access to those numbers, we’d put them on our website.
  • If you’re worried that the poll numbers are really close, come help out!  The more volunteers we have, the more doors we can knock on and phone calls we can make.  The more voters we contact, the more votes we win.  Do you understand the math here?  Just complaining or worrying about the polls doesn’t help, but working to shift those numbers in our favor really does make you feel better.
  • No, you can’t get a yard sign.  I have a whole rant about yard signs that involves studies and data, but the gist is that yard signs are a ridiculous waste of money.  If you keep asking about or glorifying yard signs, I will shove a stake up your butt and you can be the yard sign.

I think that’s all my rants for tonight, but expect more in the next 9 days.  Apparently ranting is how I cope with basically everything, especially since I have to be nice and not offend anyone in real life.

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Scattered Thoughts

  • I’m not sleeping again.  The past week it’s been pretty bad.  I just don’t feel like there’s any point in trying to fix it.  I’m used to sleep deprivation by now, and I can deal with it.  I’d rather just deal with it than go back on meds that leave me foggy all day long.
  • Don’t pick a chauvinist fight with me on the internet at 2:00 am.  I get pretty punchy.  And if you’re dumb enough to provoke a fight by being a sexist asshole, then don’t think you’re going to win by insulting me and trying to shut me up.  It’s not going to work, and you’ll look like an idiot because I can dance rhetorical circles around you.  And I will laugh about it the whole fucking time.  Especially at your pathetic insults and attempts at intimidation.  I work in politics, and I talk to people much, much scarier than you, Princess Poop-for-Brains.  You’re gonna have to really step it up if you want to scare me.
  • I went to a meet & greet with our Lieutenant Governor candidate and several state senators and representatives.  I went with a friend who lives in the same ward as I do, and the city councilor from our ward was there.  He came over and said hi, and he said, “You’re the only normal people here.”  Um, thanks?  I don’t often get called normal.  Ten minutes later he called me a unicorn, after I said I was one of those rare voters who is persuaded by facts and hard data rather than abstractions and fuzzy-wuzzy feelings about a candidate.  (We’ll leave my huge Platonic crush on Joe Biden out of this.)  So apparently I’m a normal unicorn.
  • My gastroenterologist’s office called and said my labs all came back normal.  Uh, then why can I still not stand up for more than two minutes?  I just want a definitive answer about what the hell is going on with my body.  Even if it can’t be treated, even if it’s going to get worse, I want to know.  If I know what’s going on and what I can expect in the future, then I can accept it.  But how can you accept something when you don’t know what it even is?  How can I make plans and learn how to deal with it if I don’t know what’s happening?  It’s just so frustrating.
  • My new case manager is somewhat better than the last one, but she never asks how I’m feeling or how I’m coping.  I can’t find it in me to bring up on my own how much I’m struggling, and I can’t ask for more help on my own.  But if she would just ask, then I could tell her.  But she doesn’t, so I can’t.  I hate how powerless that makes me sound.  Hell, I hate how powerless it makes me feel.  But for now, that’s the reality of the situation.

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“Just a little easier.”

I never imagined at $55,000 a year, I’d have trouble making ends meet. And my wife brings in another 25. My son’s in public school. It’s no good. I mean, there’s 37 kids in the class, uh, no art and music, no advanced placement classes. Other kids, their mother has to make them practice the piano. You can’t pull my son away from the piano. He needs teachers. I spend half the day thinking about what happens if I slip and fall down on my own front porch, you know? It should be hard. I like that it’s hard. Putting your daughter through college, that’s-that’s a man’s job. A man’s accomplishment. But it should be a little easier. Just a little easier. ‘Cause in that difference is… everything.

–The West Wing, “20 Hours in America”

Tonight/last night (it gets fuzzy; I’m not sleeping again) was good.  We had a Get Out the Vote (GOTV) summit for the coordinated campaign, and I finally feel like I’m back in the loop again.  It turns out that I was right–I basically got lost in the shuffle when things got rearranged for the coordinated campaign.  The field organizer I’d been working with got shifted out toward central Mass, and they pulled the field organizer from that part of central mass out here to western Mass.  (Don’t ask what the logic is there.  I have no idea.  Welcome to campaign life.)  But we have a dry run this weekend, and I’m all signed up for that.

Plus, I snagged some rally signs for my Halloween costume.  I’m going to be a yard sign, and on my back it’s going to say, “I’m a yard sign.  I can’t vote, so go knock some doors.”  I haaaaate yard signs, and the old guard organizers in my area are obsessed with them.  They started in on it tonight, and I wanted to stand up in a chair and yell, “LET ME TELL YOU A THING.  Yard signs do not work in anything bigger than small-town school board elections.  I don’t care that you think they work because I can cite four peer-reviewed studies that say you’re just WRONG, so please, for the love of the old gods and the new, can we SHUT UP about yard signs?”  I didn’t, of course.  I just covered my mouth and laughed silently until they shut up.  And then some guy started in on, “When I was in Bangkok, they advertised on the ice cream trucks that would drive around all the neighborhoods.”  At that point I had to excuse myself to the bathroom because ARE YOU FUCKING SERIOUS I CAN’T EVEN.  Just because you’ve been working on campaigns for the last 60 years doesn’t mean you actually know what you’re doing.  The demographics have shifted, the technology has shifted, and we have lots of studies proving that the things we’re asking you to do work and the things you want us to let you do don’t work.

Political organizing has taught me many things, but patience is probably not one of them.  I mean, I can tolerate it, but not especially well.  And at some point, something snarky would slip out of my mouth because sometimes I just can’t contain it.  Like, “Hey, this is not Bangkok in 1955,” or “If you mention yard signs one more time, I will impale you on one and you can be the yard sign.”  This is also why I’d never get elected to public office.  Remember Joe Biden in the 2012 Veep Debate?  Multiply that by ten and add a bunch of words they’d have to bleep out, and that would be me.  I’d probably be all composed and smart for half of it, and then my opponent would say something really provocative, and I’d slip.  It would be hilarious, but it would make me unelectable.

biden_malarkyJoe Biden is my snarky Platonic soul mate.  But if you think he’s a loose cannon, I promise you, I’d be like a loose…I don’t know, ballistic missile launcher or something.

(I swear I’m not actually a serial killer or anything.  I wouldn’t actually impale anyone.  I just get really sick of people who have no idea what they’re talking about hijacking meetings run by people who do know what they’re talking about.)

Anyway, it was cool because somebody I’d worked with on the Obama campaign in 2012 showed up.  She was our neighborhood team leader, and she became a bit of a surrogate mother figure to me.  We’ve been in touch sporadically–she now runs a pro-choice group–but our paths haven’t crossed in months.  It was really cool to catch up with her.  And she invited me to a meet and greet tomorrow night.  It’s our lieutenant governor candidate, our state senator and representative, and some other state senators and reps.  I’ve met most of them before, at least the ones from my district, but meet and greets are always kind of fun.  But the location is this diner where nobody under 70 goes ordinarily, and they play Fox News.  Interesting choice of venue for a Democratic party event.  *shrugs*

Then, because I was feeling pretty good, I decided I was going to go online and apply to the state university near me to go back and finish my undergrad degree.  They use a common application, so I went to that site and started doing it.  First of all, they want a $75 application fee.  I can’t even pay to heat my house, and that’s almost two weeks’ worth of food.  You can apply for a fee waiver–but your high school guidance counselor has to verify your financial need for a waiver.  I graduated in 2004, for fuck’s sake.  I don’t have a high school guidance counselor.

Then they want your parents’ entire life history.  Well, okay, their educational history.  Which meant I had to Google my father’s resume.  The father who sexually abused, raped, and tortured me for 16 years.  The father who was a cop.  The father who’s now the chair of the criminal justice department at a Midwestern college.  I thought I was going to die from a heart attack–I don’t even want to know how high my heart rate jumped up–but I managed that.

But the final straw was standardized test scores.  You can’t submit the application without test scores, but you can only enter test scores going back to 2009.  I took the SAT and ACT in 2003.  I remember what my scores were, but I don’t have the proof anymore.  And it won’t let me enter them because the dates are invalid.  Oh, and you can’t submit it without contact info for your high school guidance counselor, which, as previously mentioned, I don’t have.

The whole thing is clearly meant for high school kids.  I know I cannot possibly be the only nontraditional student trying to apply to college, but they’ve made the application literally impossible.  I probably shouldn’t have even bothered trying–I’ve been in such a bad place, and I know my sanity is very fragile right now.  But I tried because I’m an idiot, and now I feel totally hopeless.  I feel like the whole world wants me to fail, like they don’t want me to be able to get a degree so I can never get a job that will let me escape poverty.  I feel like they want me to kill myself because I’m a worthless burden on society.  I know that’s crazy, bordering on paranoid, and yet…I can’t convince myself out of believing it.

I hate my brain.  I really, really hate it.

I don’t expect things to be easy.  Like the quote at the top, I think things should be hard.  But not like this.  My life right now is too hard.  It’s impossible for me to succeed.  It’s the Kobayashi Maru, only it’s not a simulation and it doesn’t end once I accept that I can’t fix the impossible situation.  Making my life work should be hard, but it should be just a little easier.  But I don’t have the advantage of running into any White House staffers in a bar who can craft policy inspired by my difficulties.  I barely have a voice, and nobody who has power to change things really notices me, not enough to see how hard things are.

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VICTORY!

Both of my candidates won tonight!

The media kept saying there would be low turnout and widespread apathy among voters, but my gubernatorial candidate’s campaign knocked on doors and called more than 100,000 voters in the last three days to remind them to get out and vote. That’s not apathy.

Hell, I spent the morning at urgent care with a fever of 101 and a raging sinus infection, but I convinced the PA I saw to go vote for my candidate during her lunch break. I might feel like I’m dying, but I got a vote in person and then went and made hours of phone calls. That’s not apathy.

As soon as her acceptance speech is over, I’m gonna take some antibiotics and some NyQuil and get some well-deserved sleep.

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Hitting a Wall

This is what happens when I try to go full speed ahead: a surprise wall pops up, and I run into it full speed ahead.

I’m exhausted, mentally and physically.  My body hurts.  I want to cry.  I want to sleep, to crawl under the covers and not come out.  Oh, and for added fun, I’m sick.  Again.  Three days after I got over the last bug.  Everybody on this goddamn campaign is sick, so naturally I get it twice.

But I have a full day of campaign work today, and an even fuller day tomorrow because that’s the primary.  And there’s a post-voting party in Boston, which I’ll go to if there’s anyone coming back to my area that night to drop me off at home.

Then, because I’m a huge idiot, I have a bunch of crap going on Wednesday, too.  I’m showing the apartment to someone at 7:30 a.m. (whyyyyy did I agree to that?), seeing my new case manager at 10:00, meeting an old friend from high school at 12:30, and showing the apartment again at 4:30 and 6:00.

But all I can think about at this point is, “I can kill myself Wednesday night.  I can kill myself Wednesday night.”  Over and over and over.

Probably most of this is just from being overwhelmed and sleep-deprived.  Some of it’s probably hormones.  But I’m having a really hard time keeping the suicidal impulses at bay.  Even though I know the way I’m feeling is probably temporary, I just want all of it to be over.  The crappy feelings are temporary, but they always come back, and they’re here more than they’re gone.  I’m so tired of dragging myself through my life, just barely getting through.  I’m existentially exhausted, and I don’t want to do it anymore.  I think it’s unfair that people keep expecting me to.  Haven’t I done enough?  Haven’t I suffered enough?  Can’t I please just rest now?

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