Friday, November 9, 2012


Hi you guys. There is not another post until next Thursday, I think, but then they will be daily. When I first started writing about the campaign, I thought there would only be enough material for a weekly post. Boy was I wrong.

I was, however, right about how time consuming this would all be.

I do not recommend being married to someone who is running for office.

How this all got started

Primo has always been a political guy. From the beginning, he was emailing links to me. "Read this!" he would urge and I would ignore it. I don't care. I mean, I care, but I want to read the story about the kitten who is born with three legs yet triumphs or the dog who walks 2,000 miles to find the owners who moved across the country. The bride who goes to her chemo appointment and then walks down the aisle. The people who persevere despite incredible hardship. These are the stories that interest me: What drives those people?

Those stories, and what can I wear to make it look like I have an hourglass figure? That's what I like.

Sure, I care about the Big Issues, but there's not much I can do about them. I volunteer on little, specific things. I read to pre-schoolers. I put the books in order at the library. I help at the funerals at church. I do what I can to make things better in my little corner of the world. I donate money to causes I care about. I rest on my laurels of the Peace Corps. But I don't see a lot of value in spending an afternoon marching up and down the square. It's fine for other people. I understand the strategy of raising awareness, but that's not my thing.

Primo, however, is passionate about big, abstract causes. Last year, the governor of our state tried to pass some legislation that was unpopular with the Polka Dots. They rallied and there were protests at the capital. Primo went. I stayed home and watched Mad Men and Big Love. He felt guilty about leaving me for an entire day and even a few overnights - he used hotel points, so don't worry, there was not much money being used on this endeavor, but I waved goodbye with one hand and held the remote in the other. "Go!" I said. "Go!"

To have a guilt-free weekend with the TV and a bag of Fritos? Usually when he's home, I feel as if I should be doing something productive, like cleaning the house or cooking a meal or looking for a job. But when he's gone, I can revert to my lazy-ass, soap-opera watching self.

Not to mention, when Primo's gone, we don't argue about politics. I would be very happy not to argue about them when he is at home, but it's one of his favorite pastimes. We don't argue about who ran us out of toilet paper (for one thing, because that never happens with a coupon-clipping engineer in the house) or who left the toilet seat up (see previous statement) or most character flaws, although it makes him crazy that I put the dishes away before they are bone dry or use canned goods past their expiration date (I used the old tahini to make sauce for the falafel and yet Primo lives), but we have had some knock-down drag-outs about politics.

Which I hate. I really, really hate those fights. Primo hardly notices. It rolls right off him because he was raised by alcoholic wolves, except wolves are nicer. I was raised in a low-drama family. When his parents are giving him their usual alcoholic crap, he'll tell me - and it's true - that I don't understand because I come from a nice family. I do. My family is nice. There is no emotional blackmail. There are no drunken emails accusing me of being a Bad Daughter who Doesn't Care.

I had many of those days and weekends in the months to come. Primo started attending more rallies and more meetings. There was talk of a recall election. That meant circulating petitions. He volunteered. Who circulates petitions in the dead of winter?

My true believer husband. Blesshisheart.

I started to watch Big Bang Theory. That's when I discovered Primo and Sheldon are a lot alike, but that's a different story.

I thought once the petition deadline had been met, I would have my husband back. I also thought we could stop arguing over whether I was going to sign the petition. (I wasn't.) (We didn't.)

I thought we could take a dance class.

Nope. I didn't have my husband back. That's when he started volunteering for a guy who was running in the spring elections for the county government. At least that race was non-partisan. No Polka Dots, no Stripes. I spoke to D. Liked him. Agreed with some of his positions. There was nothing too extreme. I wasn't crazy about his idea to ban smoking within 25 feet of the playgrounds at the public parks. "If you don't like cigarette smoke," I said, exasperated, "then move! But honestly! It's not even indoors! It won't kill you outdoors! Can't people just lighten up? Do they have to control everything that everyone else does?"

Primo agreed with me. We do have some common ground. He agrees with me that stale cigarette smoke in a bar is just nasty as nasty can be but we don't think that it should be illegal to smoke in a bar. If you don't like cigarette smoke, don't go to a bar. Period.

He picked up another candidate. Teresa, who was running for judge. Also an allegedly non-partisan race, but she made it partisan.

We argued more about politics.

I picked up another TV show, The Big C, and told him to go work on the campaign. He emailed more links to me. Delete, delete, delete. Hand me the remote and leave me alone.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

More about politics and Primo and me

You guys know that Primo and I don't share the same political views. But we love each other. Politics are not the only thing in life. Food and sex are more important. Movies. Tennis. Traveling. Lots and lots of things are far more important than politics.

Although Primo is a wee bit obsessed with politics. Me, I couldn't care less about it. Oh sure, I care about issues. But I don't care about parties and personalities. I am a Party of Me. The Gold Digger Party. I don't see why I should have to declare allegiance to one side or another. I am interested in me. That's it.

Primo, however, was raised by activists and you know how that goes. I am a descendant of small businessmen and farmers and entrepreneurs who mind their own business and live their own lives and take care of their own. Primo is a descendant of activists and big union folks. One's raising does tend to inform one's thinking.

Where am I going with this?

Well, the past year or so, Primo has become quite active politically. He has been going to rallies and events. I have no interest in rallies and events, even for my side. I have better things to do. Yes, I am interested in improving my community, but I volunteer in ways where I can see a direct impact. We all have different ideas about how to make the world better and isn't that a good thing? Wouldn't the world be a boring place if we all wanted to volunteer at the library or the historic preservation commission or the funeral committee or as pollworkers? Some of us sort books, some of us protest. Primo protests.

For convenience, I am going to call Primo's side the Polka Dots and my side the Stripes because I do not want these posts to be about the politics themselves but about what happens when people are politically involved. The politics of politics, if you will.

Doesn't that sound pretentious?

If you will.


You know, that might not even be right. Oh well. The sociology of politics? The psychology of politics? The interpersonal dynamics of politics?

So Primo has become a Polka Dot activist. There have been Polka Dot rallies and Polka Dot parties and Polka Dot protests. He attends and I watch all of Season One of The Big C or Big Bang Theory, where I note Primo's startling resemblance to Sheldon. Win/win as far as I'm concerned. I'm more than happy to have a day to myself to watch TV. If Primo is at home working, I feel guilty for goofing off. I feel as if I should be looking for a job or cleaning the baseboards or doing something to contribute to the upkeep of the household.

This spring, Primo became even more involved. He put up campaign signs in our yard. He circulated recall petitions. He campaigned for candidates for two races, one for a county supervisor who lost and one for a judge who won. I liked the county supervisor candidate, but was put off by the judge, whom I like as a person but didn't care for her assumption that I would vote for her just because I, too, am a woman. I have never understood the thinking that only a woman can represent a woman. The law is the law, right? Does a woman apply the law differently from a man? Can I be represented in Congress only by a woman? Can only a woman understand my need for trash pickup, good streets, good schools, good defense? I guess so. I guess these issues are sex-specific.

He wanted me to be involved.

I didn't want to be involved.

But in the interests of marital harmony, I tried. I attended a campaign event with him. I took a book with me just in case. My instincts were correct. It was boring. Oh man. Is there anything more dull than a campaign event attended by people who have already decided they are going to vote for the candidate? Who then gives a speech anyhow? A speech to people who are already convinced? Why not just say, "Thanks for coming! Let's go home instead of wasting time here!"

The only thing good about that event was that it was held at a shop called Coffee Makes You Black, which I think is a hilarious name, which has a chef from Alabama, who knows how to make fried chicken and mashed potatoes. Mashed potatoes should have rivers of butter swimming on top of them. And tea should have so much sugar in it that you don't even know it's tea.

I even attended the victory party for the judge, where I was surrounded by Polka Dots, even though judicial races are supposed to be non partisan. Primo's Political Wife was there. She was the campaign manager for the judge, the one who had designed the very very partisan strategy. I am not sure if I should be bothered more by the Political Wife or by the Nighttime Wife.

The Nighttime Wife is the woman Primo hangs out with when he goes out to sing karaoke. When I first learned about her, I was very jealous. "She's so pretty!" Primo told me. "And she sings so well!"

I had to meet her. Even though I hate going out and I hate staying out late, I girded my loins and accompanied Primo to karaoke so I could meet Christina.

She's 29. She's beautiful. She sings like an angel.

And she is the sweetest, nicest thing. She is now my friend. She is not a threat.

But the Political Wife? When Primo introduced us, I felt my hackles rise. Still, I was polite. "Primo has been singing your praises," I said. "How did you get into managing campaigns?"

She told me. In great, self-serving detail. Wow. There is not one modest bone in that woman's body. Not one. She is self promoting and smug.

"Well, she is a Polka Dot," Primo told me. "We tend to be smug."

"You said she was cute. She is not cute," I said.

"She dresses cute," he said.

"She is mutton dressing as lamb," I retorted. "Women our age should not be wearing ruffles and dresses that show our bra straps. That dress was two sizes too big. Her shoes are ugly on purpose trying to pass as chic but they're just ugly."

"She knows a ton about winning a race and she's connected," he reminded me.

"Don't tell me she's cute. She's stringy and bony and she dresses like crap and she's smug."

"I love you," he said. "She is not a threat to you."

"I know that," I told him. "Sheesh. Like I would be threatened by someone like that?"

He smiled.

I had hoped that once the spring elections were over, Primo would be done and life would return to normal. I had hoped I would never have to hear Political Wife's name again. Or the names of any of the Polka Dots again. I had hoped that the yard signs would go away.

My hopes were dashed.

"I've decided to run for office," Primo said.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Monday April 16 Primo decides to run for office

Primo has decided to run for public office. The state house.

Oh boy.

You guys know that he and I are in a mixed marriage, right? He is of the Polka Dot Party and I am of the Stripe Party, as much as that side represents my views. I pick and choose a little bit from each side and a lot from the Just Legalize Everything and Leave Me Alone people.

But it's not the difference in our views that has me worried. That's not what's going to make this difficult. He's my husband. I love him. I'll support him. It's not as if he's a neo-Nazi or a Stalinist. He's just on the Other Side. Whatever. People have different opinions and I can live with that. Really. I can. I have friends all over the place. As long as people leave me alone, I don't care. As long as they leave other people alone, I don't care. Be nice to other people, don't hurt them, don't bother them about what they do in their own houses as long as they are over 18, and let's just leave it at that, shall we?

No, what I'm concerned about is the fact that this campaign is going to consume every single waking minute of Primo's life for the next six months. And probably every single waking minute of my life for the next six months.

Which means that the cat carrier will not be repaired as he promised. That the two-foot high stack of magazines in the guest room will not be sorted and discarded, although why it's necessary for us to have the 2010 issues of Car and Driver, I do not know. That I will have to drag the big plastic tube out of the garage and out to the back of the yard to put it on the downspout so my backyard neighbor doesn't get water gushing from our gutter into his garage. Which I don't mind doing, but Primo gets very picky about how these things are done - there is a real science to attaching big plastic tubes to downspouts, you know.

It means that Primo and I will not be playing tennis. Or taking walks. We won't be going to church festivals. Well, we might, but it will be to campaign, not to have fun. We won't be watching Friday Night Lights. We won't be walking to the farmers market on Saturday mornings. We won't be spending the weekends at the lake with our friends. We won't be going to concerts at the gazebo.

We're not going to have any fun.

And that's just the campaign. If he wins, he'll take a pay cut of $A LOT. Many legislators keep their day jobs once they are elected, but Primo doesn't have that kind of job. He's an engineer. He has a 70 hour a week, travel at the drop of a hat job. His employer would not be understanding or flexible.

We'll have a lot less money. Enough to survive, but not enough to re-roof the house. Or take a nice vacation. Or save for retirement Yeah, I'm superficial. That stuff bothers me.

Which means I need to get a job. Which I really, truly would not mind doing. Except nobody seems interested in hiring me.

If he wins, he has the job for only two years. Then he has to run again. If he doesn't win, then what? It would be very difficult for him to return to his profession. Things change too quickly. He's already falling behind. In two years? His knowledge will really be obsolete.

This is going to be lots of fun.