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Archive for the ‘Congress’ Category

The Unemployment Thing (See also; That Thing That Gives Me Agita)

In Congress, The District of Columbia on August 10, 2010 at 2:38 am

“[O]f all the aspects of social misery nothing is so heartbreaking as unemployment.” ~Jane Addams

Early last week or perhaps the week before I was in a mood. A no good, very bad mood over a variety of things all of which were money oriented. All of which stemming from irresponsibility and/or a month of cross country travel that left me feeling destitute. I walked into my coworker’s office, plopped down in a chair and made a HRMPH type noise. Like “Dear God, life is so hard. With the living and the having to choose between having money and a trip to Martha’s Vineyard”. COME ON everyone needs R&R and I was on that cusp of needing to get to get out. To go somewhere. To breathe something other than badly circulated air conditioning. I needed to smell salt water and eat fresh clams.

And I walked into my coworker’s office and told her just that.

“All I want to do is vacay and I can’t vacay because I have to work and let’s face it, I cannot afford to vacay. Fuck my life”

She cocked her head to the side.

“I want five minutes of peace and quiet. There’s also a dress I’ve been eying but more importantly THE BEACH and I haven’t been to the Vineyard all year. WHY IS MY LIFE SO HARD?”

Her head moved a little more to the left and she smirked. And with that I knew what she was thinking.

My head stayed straight ahead as I closed my eyes and repeated everything that had just spewed from my mouth in my head. The complaints about vacation and Martha’s Vineyard and why I had to spend a week in Seattle eating raw oysters and drinking French 75. Feel free to slap the shit out of me and my agony.

I rolled my eyes at myself and was ready to shut up and returned to my own office. The office where I sat among piles of papers with layoff and attrition projections. Dollars lost were staring me in the face. In the background played a debate on the Senate floor on the extension of Unemployment Insurance. I vaguely heard Mitch McConnell mention something about the unemployed needing to pick themselves up by the boot straps and find a damn job already (I’m paraphrasing here). For clearly that was the reason for trillions in deficit; all of those people who were sitting on their ass watching the Real Housewives instead of working. Of course.

Then more eye rolling and general head between my knees-ness over email upon email as to why it had become such a Herculean effort to keep teachers employed. There was a discussion of offsets so as not to contribute to the deficit and where the offsets should come from so as not to piss off that group or this one. But even if it was paid for someone had to have a problem because again, WHY CAN’T THESE PEOPLE JUST FIND A JOB?! Never mind that pesky recession. People just aren’t trying hard enough. People didn’t want it enough. Parents didn’t want to take care of their children. Dad’s didn’t get those bags under their eyes from sleepless nights after realizing that no bacon would be brought home. Moms didn’t fret about giving their children enough to eat. They just didn’t care and that’s why they didn’t get jobs and another “bailout” wouldn’t get them off their Bon Bon eating asses.

No one should have to go through that. No one should have to worry about how to care for their children or themselves. It’s so very liberal of me, I am aware but it is also the human side of me that doesn’t like to see people in excrutiating pain and awaiting foreclosure because of jobs lost. I cannot imagine being that terrified day to day and having the fate of my job in the hands of people who have never and could never be there. How can you help when you don’t know what it’s like to spend each day surrounded by worry. Will there be a job or won’t there? I don’t like What If and that’s on things that don’t matter like what if I can’t buy wine tomorrow or what if I can’t buy that new MacBook Pro?

I know that things are relative and we look at our circumstances and pain as individuals and not in relation to the world around us. It’s hard to see past our own problems – however small – to realize that there are those who are spend each day in a state of perpetual fear. That’s what made me feel like That Asshole; the one who couldn’t afford that trip to a beach house and didn’t want to work or just wanted a nap dammit! I turned into that person but what makes me less of an asshole – and probably you as well – is realizing that things are good. Relatively speaking. As long as I keep trying and I did keep trying and tomorrow there is a vote in the House to prove that I worked my ass off and that the gray hairs of stress were worth it.

I’m not a complete jerk. And what makes me less of an asshole is that I made myself aware. And I hope that for five seconds you can realize as well. Realize that as I type, others are in the absolute worst of situations and that vacation or no, we are some of the lucky ones.

The Members

In Congress, House, Senate, The District of Columbia on August 10, 2010 at 2:30 am

“My life should be unique; it should be an alms, a battle, a conquest, a medicine.” ~Ralph Waldo Emerson

I recently attended an event for a member of congress that featured a Special! Appearance! by the Majority Leader, Steny Hoyer. Sometimes members do this to get a good crowd. And it tickles me a bit that I live in a world where Dick Durbin is a total draw. So I’m milling about at the smallish event and chatting with the one other person I knew who used to be my boss when all of a sudden Steny! Hoyer! walks in. I turn to my colleague and say “Oh my God, what do I do? What do I say? What if he hates me?” You know because Steny Hoyer and I were going to have a 45 minute personal conversation where he would tell me his legislative priorities and I would give him my suggestions and then we’d high five to being progressive. Hoyer walks in and shakes hands and I mumble something about it being so nice to meet him and he smiles back and beelines for some freshly grilled lamb chops and I’m like OMFG the MAJORITY LEADER.

Here is a nice point for a short digression where I tell you that I’ve been watching C-SPAN since the tender age of 11 and subsequently spent a large part of my life thinking that Members of Congress were total rockstars. And while we’re at it; I can recite the names of the members of the Senate in alphabetical order by last name. Moving on.

So Hoyer speaks for about 20 minutes about how wonderful the member of congress is and how hard he works and then launches into how damn good those lamb chops are and he looks directly at me and says, “Did you try one of these lamb chops?” I had not. “Ooooh whee You should. Have one!” And of course when the Majority Leader tells you to have a lamb chop, you get yourself a fucking lamb chop and announce that it’s the best damn lamb chop you’ve ever had.

Later a staffer needed me for something but I had a tank full of guts and a new pair of balls, so I was confident enough to hold up a hand to the staffer and say, “Wait, I just want to speak to the Majority Leader”. So there I am in some stranger’s dining room with said stranger and like six other people and I walk straight up to Leader Hoyer and say, “I just want to know that I am so happy to meet you” (again) and I pause and say, “…Also! I follow you on Twitter“.

You know those moments where it feels like everything freezes like in a movie or a television show when a character breaks the fourth wall and speaks to the audience and then things go on? It was kind of like that but with no freezing just what felt like a silence so large and epic that I prepared for a glacial shit. It was a moment of silence where you realize that announcing to the Majority Leader that you follow him on Twitter – while it seems almost normal to so many people – you all? That shit’s not normal. Especially not in a room full of real adults who paid 5K to see the Majority Leader and there I am all bouncing around and “Hey! Twitter! Tweet! Tweet!” Anyway the Majority Leader then looks at me, smiles broadly and gives me a one arm, shoulder hug. “TWITTER!” He says. “Gosh, you’re fun”.

And then I died because Steny Hoyer called ME fun. The end.

******

I mentioned this to someone who knows me well that sometimes I get a little nervous around the Members of Congress. Not in a weird stalkerish, staring, cannot speak or say my name, kind of way. No no, that was years ago. I’m over that. I don’t feel insecure and it isn’t all of them but just a rare few where I’m like what if I say something ridiculous and they’re like, “Oh my God, you’re allowed to vote?” That’s my fear. Or something like that. Even better when they know my name and I get this brief moment of I must be in trouble when your Member of Congress calls you by your first and last name. It’s just…weird. Especially now when the masses find the behavior of most politicians to be abhorrent and here I am figuratively dying because Steny Hoyer said four words to me.

******

In DC last week, part of my job was to hang out with Members of Congress. I managed to keep all dorkiness and nerves to myself. I also managed to have calm, cool, collected conversations about work related things and when it was all said and done I got cheers and handshakes and general kudos. This is one of those full circle moments for me where I realize that which made me a giant ass loser from 1994 – 2000 totally turned into a positive. Like yeah, I did rush home to watch C-SPAN and then I made myself a nice little career because of that obsession. Who’s the dork now? That’s a rhetorical question. It’s still me.

Senator Chuck Schumer

Senator Kirsten Gillibrand

Congressman Bill Owens