Friday, September 2, 2011

one bank box of political contents (part three)

Finally, at the bottom of the box, we've got two totebags full of mementos and junk from the 2008 Republican National Convention in St. Paul, Minnesota.

The sister, PKD, and I arrived as delegates, but when our credentials were ruled invalid by the Contest Committee (a result of the previously mentioned statewide delegate fiasco), we received guest passes. I spent four days wandering the arena looking for Anderson Cooper and booing whenever someone said "Nevada." PKD shot video of the police state outside and got to drive a Lexus. The sister sampled from all the snack bars. We attended a few Ron Paul campaign events and visited the Mall of America.

The sister posted a fun and snarky photo account of our time in St. Paul. Disclaimer: I do NOT love John McCain. 

guests of fascists, anyway
Now, on to the remainder of the box contents, which include:

  • An official RNC frisbee.
  • Three official RNC DVDs, unopened, marked "Urgent information for Delegates and Alternates." Whoops.
  • Creepy end times propaganda.
  • Two pickle hats I acquired from a man wearing a pickle costume in the middle of the park near the convention center:
i have an extra one if you want to be twinsies
  • RP paraphernalia:
is it too late to put this on my car?
for the discerning party guest
conservatives: not great with puns
  • The sign we made when we discovered we were live on MSNBC:
i bet she still has us Tivo'd
  • Souvenirs from the Office of Blame, a booth I stumbled into while on the hunt for Anderson Cooper:

there was a phone for registering complaints. i was confused.
  • A card from Rayna, the supercool lady we met when we invaded rented most of her house for the weekend. We still keep in touch with her. She's the best Craigslist find ever:
hi rayna!
  • A BROCHURE FROM WHITE CASTLE! YUM! Oh, and the receipt. Proof we did, indeed, purchase the 30-count Crave Case:
see the sister's photos for a minute-by-minute
documentation of our WC adventure
don't judge. we'd do it again in a second.
and so would you.
  • Other schwag:
now there's a slogan i can support!
i thought we had a picture of PKD with this guy, but i can't find it

  • And the creepiest confetti I have ever seen:
At last this box is empty. From the piles and piles, I've saved only a short stack of informational materials and notes, which have found a home on the bookshelves near the textbooks. Time will tell if I need the information more than I need the space, and like many things in this experiment, I fully expect to find this stack once more, and whittle it even further into oblivion.

Before that happens, I wonder if I'll change my voter registration again...

Thursday, September 1, 2011

one bank box of political contents (part two)

Picking up mid-box where we left off, we have:

  • My 2008 State Convention badge:
where I learned all about the establishment

  • A letter from the Attorney General's office, refusing to review the events of that convention. Now that I'm halfway-ish through this box, I remember that I got involved in the party because I wanted Ron Paul to win the nomination, but I stayed involved because the party leadership displayed an alarming inability to function. Much has been said and written about those events, and by now most of the participants have moved on to other pursuits, but every once in a while I think about it and get crazy pissed!
  • A huge folder of material from the 2010 State Convention. Last year, leaders learned from their mistakes. Every participant had an opportunity to speak. Veterans and new members worked together. As a member of the platform committee, I was thisclose to updating the Social Issues plank to something inclusive and positive. The drafted plank — We acknowledge the value and inherent dignity of all human life and we support the rights of the individual. We oppose taxpayer-funded abortion and we support the State's right to define marriage. — passed out of committee but died on the floor. I was never more proud of my participation in the process than when I rose to the podium in defense of the draft. After its defeat (by a stunningly narrow margin), a handful of grateful and similarly minded individuals found me in the lobby to thank me for my efforts. It was one of my best days.
  • Sample ballots for the past few years. Did I think I would need to remind myself how I voted on certain things? To the trash pile!
  • Material from the Making of America seminars, brought to you by the National Center for Constitutional Studies. I think I learned some things about the Framers during those classes, but I'm suspicious of The 5000 Year Leap and the 28 Principles of Liberty. I rarely felt as alienated and offended by people's ignorant and intolerant expressions of their Christian faith as I did in the presence of some of these workshop participants. When J3SS came to the first seminar with me, she spent most of the afternoon swearing under her breath at the speaker. Now that was fun.
The whole thing is kind of cult-y, if you ask me.

  • Information about PACT, a well-meaning group of conservatives whose mission is to educate people about the constitution. During the time I was voluntold to help, we couldn't agree on how to mobilize. By the time the big-name local pundits arrived, I was ready to be done.
  • Instructions for being a precinct captain. I did not enjoy that assignment. It was hot, and boring, and entailed mostly knocking on doors and talking to strangers. I know my strengths better now, and the only note I need is this one: don't.
  • Notes from the Leadership Institute's Grassroots Campaign School. If you ever have the opportunity to attend one of their training courses, do it. Those folks are smart, funny, and full of practical information about running real campaigns. 
  • A program from the 2010 Lincoln Day Dinner, one of my favorite fundraisers. This particular event, it should be noted, coincided almost exactly with the day I quit smoking. Yay!
  • Notes from Nevada's Republican Assembly Caucus Campaign School 2010. A surprising set of circumstances led to my invitation to this candidate school, one of the most informative and interesting days I spent as an activist. Later that evening, as I was relating some of the tips I had gathered, I learned a valuable life lesson as well: if someone asks me to share some information I've just learned and then repeatedly and loudly interrupts me to tell me how stupid and wrong that information is, I will vow never to vote for him. (Or sleep with him. Ever. Again.)
  • My voter registration card. Should I keep this in my wallet?
  • The Governor's wooden egg, 2010 edition:
collector's item?

  • Speaking of collector's items, here's a Mike Montandon for Governor 2010 mint. Um. I don't think I need this anymore.
  • However, this incredibly cheap and tacky-looking Defeat Harry Reid pin is a keeper:
a gift from the state party. um, thanks?

  • I must've considered this box a safe place to hide things that reminded me of PKD during the period when I wanted him to die a horrible slow painful death, in public: I've discovered a bag of trinkets from the Scheels VIP Grand Opening Reception we attended together. I got to wear a fancy dress and ride the ferris wheel. Governor Gibbons wore jeans. Fun! Among the weird souvenirs, we have two dimes, a piece of three-year-old gum, hair clips, an LED cap light (you know, for hunting), and a map to all the free loot they were giving away that night. I'm not ashamed to admit: I ran in front of a middle-aged woman and dove into a barrel to nab the last pair of Lorpen Primaloft Hunting Socks. I love those socks so much; I still wear them all winter.
I can see the end! First, cleaning up this mess. Then, the 2008 Republican National Convention. Now, who needs file folders?

whatever didn't get shredded got tossed: cathartic!

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

one bank box of political contents (part one)

You may be shocked to discover the kind of political contents we're going to uncover in today's box, so let me tell you up front: 

I'm a registered Republican.

Wait! Let me explain.

Remember those personal philosophical idiosyncrasies I mentioned last week? For starters, my dad is a gun-loving, freedom-defending, constitution-waving Republican with a serious anti-authority streak, and he instilled a bunch of that in me (mostly the "don't tell me what to do" principle; guns are fun but I'm a terrible shot).

Of course I interpret those principles in my own way: I support gay marriage, freedom of reproductive choice, decriminalizing marijuana, and avoiding war. I voted for Bob Dole in my first presidential election, registered with the Green Party during my time as a Clean Water Action canvasser (my motto then: socialism, why not?), voted for the entire Democratic ticket in 2004, and volunteered for a Republican presidential campaign in 2008.

It's not that I can't make up my mind. It's that there's no singular entity to represent my often contradictory ideals. But sometimes, a campaign comes close.

Which is how I ended up involved in the local Republican party.

In November 2007, I joined some friends at the Carson Nugget to listen to then-candidate Ron Paul speak. Intrigued by what I saw at the time as a straightforward approach to liberty and economic independence, I attended some meetings and joined the campaign. I was inspired to stick around after witnessing the disorganization and cluelessness of the party firsthand, and I kept volunteering for local party jobs until eventually I went all the way to the Republican National Convention in 2008 and the State Platform Committee in 2010. I've got tons of stories to share about those years, and I wouldn't trade any of it.

But the time I spent working in the State Legislature showed me the value of compromise and the foolishness of adhering to an inflexible platform, and I'm glad to have retired from small town politics. There are better places for me to use my ideas and my skills.

So without any further introduction, let's unpack.

this bank box box is dense with papers


  • Minutes from three years of Carson City Republican Central Committee (CCRCC) Executive Board and Monthly (general) meetings. I had originally planned to put these all in a notebook for future reference. Wondering now if I should just toss them.
  • Three years of The Trumpeter, the monthly newsletter of the Carson City Republican Women (CCRW). See above re: my plans vs thoughts. Wait. These I am definitely tossing.
  • Notes on my ideas for the CCRW Satellite Group, a monthly gathering geared toward women whose needs weren't met by the more traditional monthly luncheon of the CCRW. I thought I could help shape it as a place for disenfranchised Republicans to gather, but the more I thought about it, the more I realized I was looking for a non-partisan discussion group. So I invited Bob Conrad and Ryan Jerz to lead an awesome discussion on decoding the media. And then I resigned.
  • Notes from my time as web admin and chairman of the CCRCC Communications Committee. Offer to build a website for someone, spend two years trying to explain the importance of defining an audience and a message. Then, drown your sorrows in whiskey.
  • Minutes from three years of state party meetings. As I'm not even an inch into the box at this point, I am making a rule: if it doesn't include original thoughts or important ideas on it, it's garbage. So these agendas and welcome letters can all get tossed.
  • Invitations and invitations and invitations. Fancy events are certainly a fun perk of political action. Getting panhandled by the Governor is not.
  • Tons of email addresses and other personal information on the members of the various committees and subcommittees. I will responsibly shred these. (You know how I love to use the shredder!)
  • Oodles of campaign materials. I'm guessing I saved these to study. Since I doubt I'll ever run for office, or manage anyone's campaign for office (and if I do, I'll surely hire experts), I can toss these.
  • [Honorable mention for the Ken Furlong pamphlet; he left it on my door right before I chased him down the street with a glass of ice water. It was summer; he looked warm. And even though I told him I was going to vote for him, he made me ask him questions while he cooled off, so he could practice his answers. I asked him some tough ones, which he answered with humor, honesty, and grace. He had my support for sure after that.]
  • A Scary Thing Happened, a FEMA coloring book about disasters featuring what some might consider to be distasteful 9/11 imagery. I downloaded and printed it a few years before FEMA yanked it and announced they were reviewing "all web content designed and posted by the previous administration."
  • A Smack for Congress bumper sticker! James Smack, a fellow RP supporter, ran for Congress in 2008. He didn't win, but his beehive-kicking tendencies are always fun to witness (and join). I took his sticker off my car went I went to work in the Assembly, so I'm glad to find another one.
Ugh. Sorting through three years of political activism is hard. In the next installment, more of this box. With pictures!

    Friday, August 26, 2011

    one box of legislative office contents


    Maybe you didn't know this: from January to June of this year, I worked in the Nevada State Assembly as a Personal Attaché (a fancy title for "person who runs this office, so please just go where I tell you").

    I learned so much about state government, the political process, and my personal philosophical idiosyncrasies while I was there. My favorite part? The hours and hours I spent holed up in my office watching broadcasts of committee meetings and floor sessions.

    Meet the box of the day: a box of things I packed out of that office at the end of the 76th Session:

    that i left with just one box of personal items is impressive, no?

    Let's see what made the cut:

    • A copy of the journal (that's the record of the daily actions on the floor of each house) for April 20, 2011. The Assembly adjourned that day in memory of a friend-of-a-friend who had been killed in a car accident. I meant to show the journal to said friend. I forgot.
    • Some certificates and accolades, like the certificate commemorating one of the days I was "extended the privilege of the floor of the Assembly." I believe that was Staff Appreciation Day. Here's a picture of me on the floor:
    • the office that just wants to go back to work, already
    • A Christmas stocking. Huh? Let's assume I threw this in here after the box came to live in the blue room.
    • A cd booklet full of music I listened to when my legislator was in session or otherwise out of the office. In particular, the Black Keys' Brothers; directly responsible for me surviving the last two or three weeks of the session.
    • Assorted vitamins, teas, envelope soups, and, oh lord, Tupperware... to the dishwasher that goes.
    • A box of Miracle-Gro Plant Food Spikes. Please hold while I feed all my plants. Thank you for holding.
    • My old glasses and a cleaning cloth. Hooray for health insurance that enabled me to get my first eye exam in 8 years.
    • Some really great notepads made from old legislative stationary. The paper soaks up the ink from my favorite pens in a highly satisfying, only-a-stationary-nerd-would-understand, kind of way. 
    • A coupon good for one free drink at the Carson Cigar Company: espresso martini, here I come. 
    • A stack of my dad's business cards. Because, when you work for Republicans, it's never a misstep to say, "Here, this guy would love to help you pick out a gun." 
    • Another stack of business cards, one each from every person who visited our office. I feel like I should save these, but why? If I needed to contact a lobbyist or the head of a special interest group, couldn't I just use the internet to find them? Yes, yes, I think I could. This sort of thinking out loud helps me to just throw things away already, damn it. 
    • A birthday card from my legislator. I guffawed, loudly, whenever I looked at it, even though it isn't really all that funny:
      i don't know why, but i crack up every time!
    • A steno pad with training "notes;" i.e., doodles.
    • A 5th grade social studies textbook given to our office. I read parts of it one day while passing time waiting for a committee meeting to end, and I loved it, so I kept it.
    • A handful of weird personal effects, like floss, and a band-aid, and lip gloss, and whatnot.
    • And a cartoon describing "How a Bill Becomes Law" that is the most accurate representation of the political process I've ever seen:
    • it's funny cuz it's true

    Negative: I unpacked the box in a quarter of the time it took me to write about it.

    Positive: I remembered that I don't have to participate in another conversation about politics until the 77th Session.

    Sunday, August 14, 2011

    one very large blue tub of unknown contents


    After a ten-month hiatus, tonight I stepped into the blue room and unpacked a box. This box:

    superboobs shown here for scale

    Since the label on the outside read "linen closet," I figured it was a safe bet that there would be towels and sheets and things inside:

    I wasn't expecting stuffed animals or other boxes

    After almost two years of this project, it's discouraging to find boxes inside of boxes, but I've learned to live with the discouragement. It's short work to throw all the linens into a laundry basket, put the stuffed animals into a box in the closet, and stack the boxes for another day.

    Ten minutes it took to empty the tub, and ten minutes it took to obsess about sentimentality, and space, and purpose, and usefulness. Why hang on to Burt and Ernie? Couldn't I use the closet space for something more immediate? If I could learn to let things go, wouldn't I have a better shot at efficiency, creativity, productivity?

    And I wonder why I avoid this room for months at a time.

    Saturday, October 9, 2010

    post hoc ergo propter hoc


    Like the Latin implies, just because a first thing happens and then a second thing happens doesn't mean the first thing caused the second thing. Still, I'm a relatively self-aware spazz/romantic/dreamer/doer-type, and I can recognize that record player+interesting boy+road trip+new band lineup might be the form that this every-so-often "hey, you like to make music, jackass" reminder is taking. And yes, I'm wondering how to convince the Parents and the Marrieds to let me cut a square out of the closets that connect the blue room to my room so I can make a window from a studio to a control room, but first I have to admit that I need to MOVE on getting non-music-making things out of the blue room before any fun can be had in here.

    I think I need a storage unit.

    But, since I don't have a truck or a steady paycheck (yet), in lieu of a storage unit, I'm just continuing to get rid of stuff, including the desk.

    Anybody want a desk?

    (Never mind. We put it in the garage to use for PA storage now that other band is practicing out there.)

    Also, I am cheating at this blog a bunch. I started writing this post a month ago and never finished (today is actually November 10, 2010). I moved a bunch of things around in that month and I didn't take pictures. I opened a few boxes, looking for things, and didn't document what I found or how I felt. I have strayed so far from the original box-a-day plan that last year seems a lifetime ago.

    Still, a thought recently came to me, and that is that I sometimes have to live with a thing to learn how to use it. I have known for a while that I am a kinesthetic learner, and the experience of this project has given me plenty of opportunity to feel out how I want to use this space. Now that I know that I want it to be a creative working space, I can much more easily move toward that (another lesson I am continually learning: set goals or you end up treading water).

    And with my 18-month unemployment hopefully, finally, coming to a close, I am motivated by the deadlines imposed by going to a job every day. And by the fact that it's 58 degrees in this house, and moving boxes will keep me warm.

    Monday, September 6, 2010


    I am lost.

    I read Penelope Trunk’s blog and she is lost, too. And when I read her blog in large quantities, my voice takes on qualities of her voice, and I should apologize for that: I’m sorry.

    She is good at admitting when things aren’t working for her, or when she doesn’t know what she’s doing, or when she’s treading water, like I do with this blog. I don’t link to her as often as I read her, because this space is so tiny and personal and self-indulgent and silly, and her blog has thousands of readers and career advice and prurient sexual details, and mine has none of that.

    But a thing we have in common is that we both know when we are lost.

    How I know I am lost is because I am staring down a task list that looked interesting two weeks ago and now looks like pointless busywork. How I know I am floundering is because applications for Nevada State Legislature jobs are due tomorrow, and I am dragging ass to complete them. How I know I am unsure of my place in life is because I am driving back roads of my town in the middle of the night and sobbing and feeling sorry for myself.

    I don’t know why, but being lost seems to be related to this: I finally unpacked my turntable. And all my records. And with it, I unpacked something dormant in my psyche that is not surviving the wake-up call very well.

    I would have loved for this post to be about the Christmas-like fun that was unpacking and connecting the turntable, and then unpacking and connecting with many albums. I would love to tell you about all the laughing that erupted over the two or three days I indulged this project, and how I think that the person who finally pushed me to unpack these boxes may have saved my life (and how I will not defend that potential hyperbole, because I saw, for a moment, what a miserable bastard I have been for much longer than I thought I had been, and I am having panic attacks because I might not know how to be happy anymore, but at least I have an idea that there is maybe a person here who sort of understands what I mean when I say “I feel not-right today” and doesn’t judge me or yell at me to stop feeling wrong).

    But instead, this post is about feeling lost, and not having a solution for that, and finding a place to feel safe, so what I will write, instead, is this: I missed my Orange Rhyming Dictionary and my If You’re Feeling Sinister and my Pixies 12” singles and Joy Division and Unwound and Pell Mell and Sleater-Kinney. And I don't feel lost when I am with them.