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.