Saturday, December 1, 2012

Wednesday May 9 Primo wouldn't help me run for office

You would never do this for me, would you?"

He looked guilty. "What do you mean?"

"I mean if I wanted to run for office, you would never support me like I'm supporting you."

"But you're wrong!" he blurted out.

"Uh huh," I said. "From my perspective, you're wrong. And yet, I'm helping you. Even though I know you wouldn't do the same for me."

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Tuesday May 8 getting nominating signatures at the primary

One of the first big things Primo had to do was collect signatures for his nominating petition - the petition to get him on the ballot. He spent a few afternoons walking the neighborhood, knocking on doors, but that yielded only a few signatures. It took about ten minutes per signature. He had to collect 200 good signatures and could turn in 400. So if you want the full 400 signatures, ten minutes per signature is a lot of time. It's a lot of Saturday and Sunday afternoons that could be spent doing other things.

It's 400 x 10 minutes = 4,000 minutes, which is 4,000/60 = 66.6 hours.

That's a lot of marching up and down the square.

So he decided to try to get signatures during the primary election for the recall election my state is lucky enough to have. The primary was for the Polka Dot party, which is trying to recall the Stripes governor and other elected officials. We thought there would be a lot of Polka Dots in one place.

I recruited several of his friends to help collect signatures. He didn't even think of asking them. "Who is more interested in helping you?" I asked. "Your friends or complete strangers?"

Actually, almost nobody is interested in collecting petition signatures and who can blame them? It's a pain in the neck and you have to have a really thick skin.

But I convinced three of his friends to go to the polls to collect. They're nice people and don't mind spending an hour or two asking people for their signature.

Primo emailed Teresa's husband. She's the one whose campaign he spent so much time working on. Wow, that's an awkward sentence, isn't it? How do you keep that one from ending with a preposition?

Anyhow, at my urging, Primo emailed Teresa's husband to ask if they would collect signatures. In Teresa's husband's defense, Primo did not email until the Sunday before the Tuesday election, even though I had been nagging him about it for over a week.

If anyone knows how to get your husband to do something that is to his benefit, please let me know. I have yet to figure it out.

We didn't hear "boo" from Mr. Teresa. Nothing at all. "They owe you," I said. "Call him."

Primo wouldn't do it. "How are you going to ask people you don't even know for money if you can't ask a deserved favor from someone who said he wants to have us over for dinner?" I asked.

Primo shrugged. Whatever. If we don't get all 400 signatures today, then he's the one who has to go door to door.

We got up at 5:45 a.m. this morning so we could be at the polls when they opened at 7:00.

I really hate getting up so early, at least I hate getting up that early when I didn't get to bed until late, which is my life now that I am in not only a mixed political marriage but also a mixed bedtime marriage.

Got up, showered, dressed, one cup of coffee, out the door. Primo to the elementary school by our house, me to a polling place a mile away.

Wait. Let me amend that. Woke up 15 minutes before the alarm was supposed to go off because I was having nightmares that I had slept through the alarm and had missed half of the election. And that I didn't get to have anything to eat. Which is torture for me.

Only one cup of coffee because I didn't know what the bathroom situation would be.

I got there and there was a line of people waiting outside to get into the polling place. The instructions from the elections board were clear: we could ask people to sign the petition because it was not at all related to the current election, but we had to wait for them to come out of the polling place. We couldn't approach them while they were in line.

I waited and accosted the first person to emerge. He told me he wasn't in the district. I said I thought he was. "But Stripes representative isn't my representative in the house!" he said.

"That's because of the redistricting," I said.

I called Primo. "You're sure this ward is in your district."

"Yes," he said.

"This guy is worried that he's out of the district. What happens if he signs and then he's not in the district? Does he go to jail?"

Primo laughed. "No, the signature is just struck as invalid."

As we were having the conversation, I was watching all the people who had been in line when I arrived leave. Walking right past me. Potential signers and I could do nothing because I was caught up with this guy.

I hung up and explained. He was satisfied. He signed.

That's when the poll judge came out and told me I couldn't be there.

Very politely, I informed her that yes, I could, that the election board had made a ruling that it was legal to circulate a petition at a polling place as long as it was not related to the election being held. As my petition was for the November regular election, it had nothing to do with the primary for the recall election.

She harrumphed, asked for my name, and threatened to call the district attorney. Which made me feel a little bit sick to my stomach. I called Primo. "You're sure we're allowed to be here?" I asked.

"The lady in charge of the polls here just came out and told me I had to go away. I told her about the elections board ruling. She wants me to show it to her, so I am going to print a copy."

I felt a little better. If we were going to the Big House, at least we'd be going together. Except they don't have co-ed prisons, do they? I'd be stuck in a women's prison and I would really never again in my life get enough sleep. I wanted to see the ruling for myself. We would be discussing this.

As people emerged from the polls, I asked, "Would you like to sign the Polka Dot nominating papers?" Most people said, "No thanks," and were very polite, which does not surprise me because this is usually a very polite place to live.

But one older man told me I shouldn't be there. "You're not allowed to be within 100 feet of the polls," he said.

"Sir, that's for electioneering. I'm collecting signatures for the election in November. That has nothing to do with this election."

He paused, then turned to me. "Who should I vote for in this election?"

What a stinker! Trying to trap me into electioneering!

"Sir, I can't discuss that with you. Besides," I smiled, "you've already voted."

He grunted and started to walk away. Then he stopped and turned again. "It's your side that's made us have to have this election and waste all this money," he said.

Bless his heart. I agreed with him. I did not like what the Polka Dots had been doing over the past year. But this was not the time or the place to discuss that issue.

"Sir, it may comfort you to know that I'm in a mixed political marriage," I laughed.

"Then I feel sorry for your husband!" he snapped.

Wow. My jaw dropped. I wanted to say, "I'm on your side!" but I don't know if it would have made any difference. I am not used to strangers being so rude to my face.

I told the story to Primo when I went home for lunch. "Well, that's because Stripes are jerks," he said.

"Watch it," I warned. "I'm doing you a huge favor here. You'd better be nice to me. Besides, how would you feel if someone judged all Polka Dots by your dad?"

He shook his head. "Nope. That wouldn't be good."

"Then let's leave it at this was a grouchy old man, OK? Let's not use him to characterize an entire set of political beliefs." I decided it wasn't worth it to start a discussion on the value of a recall election and to note that the grouchy old man had a point.

After lunch, we both walked back to the school by our house where Primo had been collecting in the morning. We showed the elections board memo, which Primo had printed, to the poll judge. She seemed satisfied and even told us what the voting patterns were so I wouldn't be wasting too much time standing outside the door, waiting for signers.

Primo went to another polling place and I stayed by the school. I got a few more signatures, but then had one man tell me that yes, he voted Polka Dot all the time but he didn't want to sign a petition. I wasn't following his reasoning, but decided not to press him.

Another couple accused me of presenting them with a petition for a Fake Polka Dot candidate.

"This has nothing to do with the recall election," I tried to explain. "This petition is for the regular November election. And I can assure you, my husband is not a fake Polka Dot. We have vigorous discussions about this all the time."

They were unconvinced. But they told me they vote straight party ticket, so we would be fine with them in November.

I went home after an hour, then returned to the school at 5:00, which was when voting seems to be heaviest. I still was getting only one out of every five or six voters, but there were more voters, so I got signatures more quickly. Some people stopped only when they heard the words, "Polka Dot." I was asking, very quickly, even faster than I had in the morning, "Would you like to sign nominating papers for a Polka Dot?"

A Hispanic couple walked up. "Would you like to sign this petition for a Polka Dot?"

The woman hesitated. "I am not a Polka Dot," she said.

I laughed. "Neither am I. I am doing this because I love my husband."

She nodded. "A wife needs to do what the husband wants," she said sagely.

Another woman overheard me. She gasped. "You're a Stripe? Married to a Polka Dot? I'm a Polka Dot. I could never be married to a Stripe! Never!"

I just smiled and said, "There are more things to life than politics."

A lot of people whom I was sure were Polka Dots said no. When you, as a Polka Dot, can't get the pink-haired, multiple-pierced woman or the long-haired, Birkenstocked man signature, what is this world coming to?

There were also several people who didn't know what a nominating petition was and who didn't seem to believe me when I told them. I am often convinced that universal suffrage has some serious drawbacks.

My friend Mary Jo from book club walked up. "What are you doing here?" she asked.

"Nominating petition," I told her.

"Oh! Right! I remember!"

"Hey!" I said to her. "You're a huge Polka Dot! Will you sign?"

She laughed. "I already signed when Primo came to my house, remember? I knew I recognized him."

A friend of hers walked up. "Will you sign nominating papers for a Polka Dot?" I asked.

The friend shook her head. "I'm not a Polka Dot."

Mary Jo said, "Oh come on. The purpose of this petition is just to get him on the ballot. I think everyone should be able to run. I signed my neighbor's petition a few years ago and I couldn't stand him or his politics. But I say let the voters decide."

I agreed. "I don't think anyone should ever run unopposed. And so far, my husband is the only Polka Dot who has expressed an interest in running in this election."

"Just sign it," Mary Jo urged. "You don't have to vote for him, but don't you think it's more democratic if everyone gets a shot at running? Why should the incumbent not have an opponent?"

The friend sighed. "I guess so. I'll sign."

The two of them left to vote and another friend of mine approached. "Maxwell!" I said. "I didn't know you voted here!"

"I do," he said. "What are you doing here?"

"Primo is running for the state house," I said. "Want to sign his nominating papers?"

He held his hands up. "Nope. I'm not a Polka Dot."

"Oh, come on," I urged. "This just gets him on the ballot. He'd sign for you, you know."

He shook his head. Nope. He wasn't going to sign. I was a little disappointed in him. I would sign for a friend who was running for the other side unless the friend was some extreme wacko and I tend not to be friends with people like that. Signing the nominating petition is not the same as voting for.

It took me only 90 minutes to get 60 signatures, which was when I ran out of blank sheets, so I went home. Done! I thought. I was going to eat something and read a brain candy book for the rest of the evening. No more standing. I was sore and tired.

Primo had just gotten home. He was dropping off sheets and picking up some stuff to take to his friend's fundraiser that evening. "I'm done," I announced.

"But what if we need more?" he asked.

"We had Tina, Darcy, and Victor this morning. Victor got 35 signatures. I sent a message to Tina, but haven't heard from her. You'll have to call Darcy. But let's assume they also got 35 as well. Then Christina and Rachel are going out tonight. You and I together have 235. You only need 200."

"But I want 400! It looks better if I turn in 400," he said.

"Nobody cares about that," I scoffed. "You need 200 good signatures. These are all going to be high-quality signatures. They're not going to be struck. Add the 235 to the 150 or so we're probably getting from the other volunteers and we'll be fine."

He gave me the big-eyed kitten look. "Just a few more? Just in case?" He handed me two blank sheets, enough for 20 more signatures.

"Fine!" I said. "I'll do it. But you owe me big time. I mean, huge." I glared at him.

I got 20 more signatures. I came home. Primo was gone at his campaign event.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Thursday May 10 Newspaper gets story wrong

Last year, when the protests at the capitol started and Primo became radicalized and all excited about politics and I just wanted it all to be over so life could return to normal and Primo could complain that I didn't spend enough time with him rather than the other way around - trust me, the last thing you want in life is to live in a place of political unrest. It might look interesting from the outside, but it is no fun for the people who are living it.

Where was I? Oh. Right. Last year, Primo made a few trips to the capitol to join the protesters. I did not join him. Draw your own conclusions.

One day, there was a request in the newspaper asking for people whose personal relationships had been affected by the goings-on to call the reporter. Primo had seen it. "Do you mind if I call this reporter?" he asked.

"I don't like the idea," I said. "I have no interest in having my personal life written about in the paper."

I know. I know. You're thinking, But Gold-digger, you write a blog about your life! What do you mean, you don't want your personal life in the media!

Note this. This blog is anonymous. Some of you know me in real life and know who I am, but the random reader who stumbles across this blog doesn't have my real name. Also note that I am the one writing, therefore, I put out only that information that I wish to reveal.

I have not trusted the press for years. In every story where I have known what was really going on, the press has gotten it wrong, which makes me wonder about the rest of what I read.

For example, when I worked for an HMO in Austin, there was a little boy who had an illness that could not be cured. His father worked for the state of Texas. The little boy needed care, but it was not medical care, it was more respite care for the parents and help with everyday things.

The way the contract worked with the state of Texas was that they decided what benefits they wanted covered and told the various HMOs - all of which were offered to state employees - to price those benefits. Got that? The state defined the contract. The state defined what was covered.

One thing that is usually not covered under health insurance and was explicitly not covered in the state contract was custodial care, which was exactly what the boy needed.

Yet the local paper wrote a story excoriating the HMO where I worked for being evil, bad, uncompassionate jerks for not covering the respite care. 1. There was a contract defining what would be covered and what would not. 2. My employer had not even written the contract!

I have other stories about idiot reporters. One wrote a story reporting that because x% of the blood samples taken at the student health center at the University of Texas were HIV positive, that meant that x% of the UT student body was also HIV positive. I hadn't even taken probability and statistics yet but I knew that you couldn't draw that conclusion from that data.

Anyhow. I don't trust reporters. I have no interest in having my name in the paper or being on TV or in being a public figure unless I am controlling exactly what is said about me. Which means I have no interest in ever talking to a reporter because no reporter is going to let me vet what she writes.

But Primo wanted to talk to this reporter. "Having my name out there might be a good thing if I decide to go into politics," he said. Yes. It appears he had been contemplating this move for a long time.

"Fine," I said. "Just leave me out of it. You may refer to your wife, but do not let them put my name in the paper."

I truly do not understand people who crave celebrity. Why one earth would you want everyone in your business? Being known for being really good at something is one thing, but being known just to be known? Not for me, thanks.

He talked to the reporter. I knew who she was. I'd sent a few emails to the editor about her. She was a really bad reporter - didn't get the facts right in her stories. I looked for my emails, but I couldn't find them. But suffice it to say that if I knew off the top of my head that she had x, y, and z wrong about the Episcopal or Lutheran church, that she should have been able to get it right with just a tiny bit of research.

"She's going to screw it up," I told him.

"She was really nice," he said.

"Whatever. She's a crummy reporter."

Sure enough. The story came out. The line about us?

That the protests had put a strain our marriage.

The debate has lit a fire in Primo, adding tension to and putting a strain what already was a politically mixed marriage. A lifelong Polka Dot, Primo went to the protests to check them out, which bothered his wife.

"At first she was happy that I'd found something to be interested in," said Primo. "Now, every time we talk it's a political back and forth. She's resorted to commenting on my Facebook page because she says that's the only way she can say everything she wants to say.

"We might snipe at each other once in a while, but . . .  we love each other and that's the most important thing."

"Did you say that?" I asked curiously. It didn't sound like Primo. "Did you say our marriage was strained?"

He shook his head. "No. That is not what I said to her."

"Then why did she write it?"

He shook his head again. "I told her that you and I don't agree on the protests, but I never used those words. Never."

I believed him. It didn't sound like him and it certainly didn't fit into the narrative he was trying to construct.

When he sent the article to Sly and Doris, even Doris who would have been rejoicing at marital strain and discord and possible imminent divorce, said, "That doesn't sound right at all."

Which is why if I ever have to talk to a reporter, I will have my own tape recorder. I don't trust them (reporters, not tape recorders) as far as I can throw them.

Friday May 4 Seth and the website

Primo hired some kid to do his website. "He's running for office himself," Primo said. "He's about to graduate from high school."

I shook my head. "That's the best your side has?"

"He did a decent job on Jack's political website," Primo said.

I got the password and took a look at the site. "This is crap," I announced to Primo. "You need to let me do this. He hasn't done anything good and he's done a lot of bad things. I looked at Jack's site and it's crap, too. He has hotlinks that don't go anywhere and he left in stuff from the template that doesn't belong."

"Fine," Primo said. "You take care of it."

A few days later, Primo said, "Seth went off on facebook, calling one of our guys a union thug."

"If the shoe fits," I said.

"Yeah, but that's poor form," he said. "Maybe it's not such a good thing to have him working on my website. He seems to be a loose cannon."

"I need to get some information from him," I said. "Don't do anything yet."

I had not been able to figure out how to load a photo on the front page. This was in Wordpress, which I did not know so well. I finally sent an email to Seth asking him how to do it.

I didn't hear back from him for a few days. In the meantime, I figured it out for myself.

"Seth sent me a message on facebook," Primo said. "He's looking for a job. Look at this spelling and grammar."

I looked. It was pretty bad.

"This is not someone I would rush to endorse," I said.

Finally, I got an email from Seth:

I've set the website live. You can upload a photo via the Slider option on the left hand side of the website.

What? He hadn't even looked at it or he would know that I had put the photo in. Plus, the site was not ready to go live! It had almost no content! Who sets a website live without at least looking at it and definitely without getting permission from the owner?

I checked the site. It wasn't live. It didn't look live in my browser.

Now I know that browsers don't always show current stuff - sometimes they are lazy and show cached, not-live versions.

Instead of replying with an angry, "No! Do not set this site live! It is not ready!" I just emailed back that I had taken care of things. The "You're a complete idiot" was implied.

Two days later, Primo said, "Samantha says my website is live. What's going on?"

We investigated. It was live indeed. Well crap. A live website that had almost no information except for some dummy copy that I had put in when I created the various tabs.

Primo was not happy. "You should have been on top of this," he said.

Insert huge fight here about how is Primo supposed to do things if he can't trust the people he's delegating to. Only I couldn't fight back very hard because Primo was right. I had dropped the ball.

I set the status back to "under construction."

"Change the password," he said. "I don't want Seth involved in this at all. I'm scared he might do something destructive. Jack wants you to change the password on his, too."

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Thursday May 3 spending money on wine

Primo: I bought more wine.

Me: Why?

Primo: I figure as long as we have money, I might as well.

Me: But - it's just a timing thing. We won't have money later if you win.

Primo: No! As long as money is coming in, we have it.

Me: You'll do great in government.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Thursday May 3 I won't help other polka dots

"You're not helping me because you believe in my side," Primo said accusingly. "You're only helping me because you love me."

"Well of course," I said. "Did you think otherwise?"

"But what if you have to coordinate with other campaigns? Then what?"

"So what?" I shrugged. "I don't care. I'll coordinate to help you, but I won't work for other candidates. What's the big deal?"

"But what if it involves lit drops for other campaigns?"

"You mean like my dropping lit for another campaign? No. I won't drop lit for another candidate. But if a volunteer is going to drop lit for you and another candidate at the same time, then sure, I'll hand your flyers and the other candidate's flyers to him."

"But what if someone asks you what you think?"

"Nobody cares what I think! What does the mayor's wife think? What does the senator's wife think? What does the current representative's wife think?"

"I don't know," he admitted.

"Exactly! Nobody knows, nobody cares. And that's because it's irrelevant. It's not about me, it's about you."

"But you won't help on the other campaigns."

"Sweetie, no, I won't. You could offer me a million dollars to run the presidential campaign for the Polka Dot candidate and I wouldn't do it. I am going to help you get elected because I love you, not because I believe in what you're doing. If that makes me a hypocrite, then I'm a hypocrite."

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Monday April 30 Carol petition

Me: I'm getting my hair cut tomorrow. Get me the nominating petition so I can have Carol sign it.

Primo: Maybe you can make an appointment for me while you're there.

Me: Maybe.

Primo: Maybe I should have my hair cut more often while I'm campaigning.

Me: Go get the petition.

Primo: Wait. Let me think about it.

Me: Think about it while you're going upstairs.

Primo: I don't think I can do that.