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{September 21, 2012}   On the Campaign Trail… Optimistic

Every day I wake up and think I can’t, but then I do.  It’s the funny thing about this campaign; I seriously have the exact same emotional roller coaster pattern every day. I wake up optimistic; I read some scripture and listen to inspirational music. I think positive thoughts. I get dressed, I walk the dog, I realize I don’t have time for food, I realize I have yet to go grocery shopping so I don’t have any food. I feel a pang of guilt because I have short changed the dog on his walk. I know that the neighbor will come over mid-day to let him out, but I also know that she seriously doesn’t get dogs and will only walk him for a total of 5 minutes (no exaggeration)… just enough to take the pressure off. That guilt leads to frustration and then my optimism drops a level.

I pull into the parking lot and ready myself for a 14 hour day; it’s a few minutes until I actually have to be in the office so I sit in the car for 3-5 minutes. I scold myself for being that person that doesn’t want to give her employer even five extra minutes. That thought directly leads to me feeling indignant because I never leave the office when I am officially “off” thus, why can’t I have a few minutes to myself! My enthusiasm has dropped another level.

I walk in and soon volunteers are in the office. The morning volunteers are particularly cheerful; the fact that we schedule the perky people as the morning office volunteers is no accident. I smile and see their enthusiasm for the candidate. My enthusiasm increases. I look at my calendar some of my favorite volunteers are coming in today. It really doesn’t matter what day it is because my favorites are the one who come in almost daily. Commitment. I love it. I love that they get it. My enthusiasm doubles!

It’s time for the morning meeting. We talk about our “goals” (quotas), our strategy for achieving it, and how we are going to get our teams to work harder. My team is made up of older people. They care, but they are tired; not just physically but emotionally. As one told me, they’ve done the “activist thing” for years. They want to pass the torch, but the area I’m in makes it difficult. People are middle class to well off. They moved here to avoid the city, the youth, and the minorities. The majority of the populous are content with their monotonous world and their monotone environment. They are living the American dream. They like homogeneity. There are a few who believe that others deserve the same opportunity and understand that hard work alone didn’t get them to this point, but rather an accident of birth gave them the stepping stone to achieve their success. However, they are thankful for the accident and few want to disturb the comfort of their neighborhoods and connections by going against the status quo by publicly helping organizations like the one for which I work. There is a small percentage that put more than money where their mouth is and are trying, and even they have to be poked and prodded to do more. As I look at my goals, I know that my people will try, but it is more than likely, it is very probable, that they will not achieve those goals. My enthusiasm sinks.

It’s one of those situations where you know you can’t win, but you fight for the gold anyways. Plus, you know that so much is hanging on your success than just you hitting your goals. Actual lives can be altered for the worst if your candidate doesn’t win. It’s the ultimate sales job, trying to sell selflessness, but what is at risk is so much more than the quarterly bonus.

I get into my day and I am thankful for those who do show up, who do make calls, who do canvass. I realize why I have to be on my game, so that my team, even though it is small is motivated enough to be on their game.

The day winds down. It’s been long I’m tired I just want a nap. I didn’t take lunch. I ate a little at my desk and felt guilty when a team member walks in on me, as if I’m not supposed to eat. Still, I have about four more hours of phone calls to make, trying to recruit more people to give their time, so that my team doesn’t feel so overwhelmed. I get a few scheduled, but it never counts as a success until they actually show up and work. I’m still tentatively optimistic. However, of the handful of people I have scheduled, I literally called about 200 people. It’s frustrating, how come they don’t see how important this is? How can they be so selfish when it comes to social policy? How can they say they care, that they support, but aren’t willing to give 2 hours? They will spend more time in front of the television tonight! I’m disheartened because I feel like it’s so obvious that one has to give back to their community yet few do.

The office officially closes. I’m worn out, mostly emotionally, but also physically because I try to be cheery and perky while volunteers are in the office. I prep for the next day, because it’s important to be prepared before the volunteers and team members come in each day and I’ve already talked about my few minutes in the parking lot. I’m so tired. We have our evening meeting. I talk about successes of the day, and near misses, I lament about how close my team came to achieving goals, but just didn’t have the man power. I feel like I am in a Ground Hogs day experience sometimes. The exhaustion alone is enough to make me not want to come back tomorrow, but that coupled with the constant failures that come with a job such as this makes it a sure bet that tonight is my last night.

The other campaign workers want to go to the bar. How can they want to go drinking? We are on hour thirteen and we still have things to wrap up. Hour fourteen hits, I know the culture of campaigns insists on after hour bonding so I agree to go for one drink. Because I have such a small team, I need co-workers who feel connected to me. The only way I will survive and succeed in my territory is if they like me enough to help. Especially those who are having an easier time, with more developed teams.

We go out. We laugh, we drink. The alcohol makes me even sleepier. But the conversation about our goals, our hopes for the campaign, and for our careers in general re-energize me. We talk about our sacrifices for this campaign. Some have left school, some jobs, many their home states. I’m not feeling as dejected now; we all are coping with the sacrifices we’ve made for the greater good. Its hour sixteen. I can’t stay any longer, my dog is at home and I am exhausted. Unlike the out-of-towners, I don’t live in housing that is a five-minute drive from the office. No I have a commute. I head home.

I’m greeted by the dog. He has to pee so there is no straight to bed. I walk far longer than it is safe at this hour at night, or should I say morning. Still he is at home all day, he hasn’t gone to the bathroom, and he hasn’t destroyed the house; that deserves a long walk. Next its dishes or laundry. No dinner because there are no groceries. Shower and fall into bed. Only, now I’m not tired, I mean I am. I’m exhausted, it’s just I’m so tired, I’m actually having trouble sleeping. I turn on old reruns, and then I start to drift off. I tell myself that this is only for a short time. This is for the greater good. That I always wanted to be a part of the change in the world, not just make money (all though I am not against making money) and offer no significant contribution. I tell myself, I’m not alone, that I work with people who feel the same way. I tell myself, that we as a group were specifically hired into this area because we can handle difficult communities. I remind myself that even though we confront opposition every day, we were placed in this area because they felt we could handle it. I can handle this. I can do this. I want to do this. I want to make history happen. I drift off to sleep…

The first alarm sounds. I press snooze, a few more minutes maybe that will make me feel like I’ve had more than a few hours of sleep. My second and third alarm goes off. It’s not until I see the pathetic look in my dog’s eyes that I feel guilty enough to rise. I’m optimistic.

My Morning

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My Evening

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The funny thing about committing your life to another individual’s success is that it is easy to forget that the ultimate goal is someone’s advancement not my own. What do I mean? Well, I am working on this campaign, last week I worked 91 hours in 7 days, I drove 446.8 miles covering my assigned region, and hosted 15 events.  With such a grueling schedule, it can be easy to lose sight of the ultimate goal and focus on your immediate busy schedule. So every now and then I have to remind myself, that I do this, not because I hate sleep, don’t like eating regularly, enjoy drinking more coffee than is probably healthy (that’s a lie I LOVE coffee especially Starbucks), or that I am just glutton for punishment. No, I do this because even as a little girl I wanted to make a difference in the world and I never want to be that person who rants and raves and does nothing… Even if that means sacrificing dearly for several months.

In addition, I have to remember that even though I spend a majority of my day with uncooperative people who like the idea of being a part of a major campaign (but not the work), I do have some people who, like me, just want to know that they didn’t stand on the sidelines, they did something. In particular, I have a doctor who comes over when he has breaks from patients, two elderly individuals who are determined to make those calls no matter how rude people are to them (especially my wonderful lady who has been a citizen for 20 plus years and still has to deal with her legitimacy being questioned), and a businessman who schedules his business meetings around the two hours he spends volunteering daily. These people get it and I love them for it! They remind me that this isn’t just a job, but hopefully my contribution to transforming society. Thank you… I love you man (and woman)!

P.S. Forgive the run on sentences, I’m sleep deprived.

For my elderly woman, who has been a faithful voting citizen for 20 years, and is shy on the phones. Don’t listen to those racists. Half of them will never bother to do more for their community than complain and then blame others for their failure (ironically that’s is what their candidate say about us LOL)….

This is what I want to say to you:

This is what I want to say to them:



Anyone who has walked into a new work environment understands that sometimes it can be difficult to adjust to the norms and culture. When I used to a work in corporate environments I noticed a tendency for people to stay at their desks hours past productivity just to prove that they had the commitment necessary to succeed. Literally, sometimes people were watching YouTube videos, they just didn’t want to be the first to leave.
There is an element of that in the political world as well. However, in politics, especially this close to the major election there probably is more you can do, there is always more. It’s just that at some point you have to sleep, and I like my sleep. The problem is that like the corporate world there is an expectation that one should strive to not be the first to leave… the bar that is… the political atmosphere is such where you work long hours and stay out even longer drinking. Its all considered part of the process, the bonding and team building, that makes for a successful campaign run. Because truthfully a good campaign is less about the candidate and more about how well oiled and united his or her team is when working together to get the propaganda out.

While I like going out to eat and having a good time, I’ve never been the type to really make drinking and staying out late the central point of any activity. So on that note, I am a little at odds with the campaign culture, even though I am an extremely politically conscious person.

My Field Director has never actually said anything, but I can tell I’ve committed a faux pas  when I leave the office early. Early being 9 to 10pm.

Probably about a week later, I did get the “friendly” advice that I should try to blend in with the culture and go drinking with everyone. I know the adviser was trying to help, but I really felt that I was in a scene from Mean Girls, because all I wanted to do was go home and sleep and see my dog. 😦

 

— All Memes are from Capaignsick.tumblr.com



{September 12, 2012}   On the Campaign Trail!

My First Day on the Job.

“My Field Director showing me my region on a map”

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I was told that I had a great team and I was so lucky to be walking into this sub region. I felt so blessed. I felt in awe!

Exactly one week after starting

A whole week where established team members never seemed to make it to events (even the one’s they scheduled before my arrival), I learned that there was a mutiny of sorts. Team members didn’t agree with the overall campaign strategy for the election, so they decided to only do what they felt would benefit the campaign and nothing else.
So this is how I felt about that. “I have been BAMBOOZLED!”

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{September 10, 2012}   New Job!

The last couple of weeks have been a whirlwind. I went from sitting on the couch making homemade dog food (don’t judge me) to working 12-14 hours a day, 7 days a week. I was recommended for a position with a major campaign, so I am thoroughly happy! He is the only man for which I would gladly be underpaid. People ask me what I do in my position and it really is hard to explain why it takes the ridiculous number of hours out of my life that it does. So instead, I have created a series of posts in pictures, journalism my life on the campaign trail. These posts are taken from a blog called Campaign Sick. Enjoy!

P.S. I’ll be pretty busy until election, so this is pretty much me signing off… until then.

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{September 10, 2012}   Gluten free update

Well, gluten free seems to work for me. I need to be more fastidious about the dairy free, but many of my symptoms are gone. No more joint pain. No more stuffiness every single morning. Less acne ( I just started a really stressful job so that’s not helping). Best of all, I seriously lost like 25 lbs in 3 weeks, not kidding. I’m like amazed. I checked my scale to make sure it wasn’t broken. I didn’t believe it until I fit into pants that just the week before I could barely get over my thighs. It is the most baffling thing ever. Yet amazing.
I’m still learning how to function in the “real” world. Going to restaurants requires forethought. Grocery shopping takes more time, but at the end of the day I am not as hungry as often and I have more energy. So basically a win!



et cetera