Saturday, January 12, 2013

Monday July 2 Cranky

Primo: Are you cranky?

Me: Yes.

Primo: Why? Because I made that campaign contribution? Because you're losing your freedom?

Me: Yes.

Primo: Maybe you need to find a rich man so you can still be a gold digger.

Me: Oh yeah. There's a huge market for middle-aged, chunky ladies with wrinkles.

Primo: Maybe there are rich men who want someone they can talk to.

Me: Nope. That's what their friends are for. They can buy beautiful young women.

Primo: Maybe I need to find a rich woman.

Me: That would be fine. Pay me four thousand dollars a month in alimony and give me the assets I brought into the marriage and I'll go away.

Primo: It's not a long-term marriage. And now you have a job. No alimony.

Me: Then you're stuck with me.

Monday July 2 Fundraisers and fundraising

Primo told me that we would have to host fundraisers. You know, throw parties, invite our friends, and ask them for money.

The idea makes me nauseated.

And then we need to ask our friends to host fundraisers for him. Throw a party at their house, invite their friends, ask for money.

That idea also makes me nauseated.

I sussed out one of my Polka Dot friends this morning. She is a strong Polka Dot and has volunteered on at least one political campaign that I know about.

I casually mentioned the fundraiser Primo and I had attended this weekend.

She shuddered. "Who throws that kind of thing?" she asked. "I would hate to do that!"

Well. That answered that question.

Then Primo informed me that the judge's husband - the judge on whose campaign he worked this spring (I forgot what I named her) - donated $400 to his campaign.

My jaw dropped. "That's so much!"

"Well, I donated $300 to her campaign, so they're returning the favor."

My jaw dropped further. "You donated $300 to a political campaign and didn't tell me about it? You didn't discuss it with me first? I thought we had agreed that we would not do that sort of thing!"

He looked slightly shamefaced. "It was out of that old credit union account that I finally closed. The one I had before I married you. It seemed like that money really shouldn't count."

I glared at him. "I'm going back to work so you can do this - for not very much money - and you're giving our money away? I thought you were donating $20 or so!"

He got defensive. "It makes a difference in the campaign finance reports."

"So what? Who cares what's in the finance report?"

"Political strategists do."

"So what again! Why does an ordinary voter care about that? Does it translate into more votes?"

He sighed. "It's how it's done. I donate to a campaign and they donate back to me."

"Then why bother? Why not just keep the money?"

"Because it shows in the reports!"

I took a deep breath and tried again. "Why does it matter what's in the reports? The ordinary voter neither knows nor cares, right?"

He exhaled impatiently. "It looks good! It looks like I can raise money!"

"I don't understand! Who cares if it looks like you can raise money? One hundred dollars is a hundred dollars, whether it comes from you or from another candidate. Why go through the charade?"

"Because some people don't want to give money unless they see other people have given money."

I looked at the clock next to me. "It took you three minutes before you gave me a decent answer to that question."

He smiled. "Are you cranky?"

"Yes," I said. "I am cranky. And I want to know when the money is going to start coming from these donors. You've primed the pump enough."

Monday July 2 Job acceptance, odd questions on survey

1. I finally came to an agreement with my future employer. Plan is to start next Monday. I am going to lose my freedom. Primo better win.

I took my drug test. I guess this means I'll have to stop doing heroin.

2. Primo got a survey from some union. They want to know what his religion is and who my employer is. I want to know why any of this information is relevant.

For what it's worth, Primo is a baptized Presbyterian but is in real life agnostic at best. I thought we didn't have religious tests for office any more.

As far as my employer, it's none of the union's business, either. I don't need my job jeopardized because Primo is running. I don't want my employer involved in any way. Indeed, I have not mentioned to them that Primo is running. In my cover letters and in my interviews, I have just said that my husband is contemplating a career change that would lead to a significant reduction in income, which was why I was looking for a job.

Friday, January 11, 2013

Sunday July 1 Late from the meet and greet

Primo returned from the meet and greet an hour after it was supposed to have ended. These things take time, I suppose.

"Was it worth it?" I asked.

"Yes," he said. "There were about 40 people there. I arrived just as Tabitha was finishing speaking, so they asked me to speak. I just introduced myself and said where the district is and who I'm running against. I didn't talk about the issues."

"You don't need to," I said. "Anyone who goes to a political fundraiser doesn't care about the issues. They're going to vote for the person in their party."

He nodded. "I just have to get them to vote."

"There were people telling Tabitha she had to counter the Stripes lies, be aggressive, blunt their attacks," he said as he laid a paper napkin wrapped around brownies on the counter.

Right. Because that's all Stripes do is lie, lie, lie.

"Are those any good?" I asked.

"Nope," he said.

Why can't Polka Dots serve a decent dessert?

Sunday July 1 A long fundraiser

Primo returned from the fundraiser an hour after it was supposed to be over.

"There were people in the audience who were telling Tabitha that she had to be aggressive, that she had to blunt the attacks the Stripes will be making, that she has to counter their lies."

I rolled my eyes. Oh yes. That's all Stripes do is lie.

He brought back brownies. They weren't any good, either. What is it with Polka Dots and bad desserts?

Sunday July 1 Last minute political event

1:10 p.m. Primo comes downstairs: Samantha just put something on my calendar: a meet and greet for Tabitha Smith [a big Polka Dot who is running for the U.S. Senate]. It's here, in our neighborhood.

Me: I guess that's something you'll need to attend.

Primo: It's right now. It's from 1:00 to 2:30.

Me: It's already started?

Primo: Yes. A little warning would have been nice.

Me: I guess you'd better get your butt into the shower.

Primo: She could have emailed.

Me: I guess she doesn't know that you don't take a shower unless you are going someplace where you have to be showered.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Saturday June 30 The fundraiser with the bad dessert and some advice from another political spouse

We went to the fundraiser for Stephanie Perry. We were promised wine and dessert. We had planned to eat out and then go to the music festival, but ate hamburgers at home instead. Primo forgot the map he had printed so got a little panicky, but he had the email with the address on his smartypants phone, so we found it just fine.

It didn't hurt that there were three "Stephanie Perry for State House" signs in the front yard of the people hosting the event.

I was forced to wear a nametag. As I was writing my name on the tag and trying to ignore the unspoken request for the expected donation - I have discovered there is a table at the entrance to these parties where a person sits and asks, "Would you like to make a donation?" or just gives meaningful looks, I overheard a conversation from the living room: "No! We can't let them use the word 'choice!' Choice is a loaded term."

Well that was interesting.

Then I found Samantha, who already knows my name, so I didn't have to worry about talking to strangers.

"Congratulations on the job," she said.

"Oh. Yeah," I said. "I haven't accepted it yet. But it's good to have."

"If you don't want that one, the Polka Dots organizing the youth group needs a new executive director," she smiled.

"Oh yeah right," I told her. "They could offer me ten million dollars to run the Polka Dot presidential campaign and I would turn it down. I want Primo to win this election, but I don't want anyone else on your side to win." I shrugged.

She laughed. "You're a good wife."

We moved on to whether drugs should be legal (yes, even heroin and meth) and were doing just fine on our own, but Stephanie's husband approached us. I was enjoying talking to Samantha, so I almost told the guy, "We're talking about our periods" just to make him go away, but I decided not to at the last minute.

He introduced himself. "Are you a candidate's wife?" he asked.

Yes, I told him.

"Let me give you some advice," he said. Stephanie is an incumbent running for her fourth term. "I'll tell you what they told me when Stephanie was elected and the governor had all the new Polka Dots to a reception. They told me to buy a gun. I stopped watching TV and listening to the radio."

He paused. "Do you have kids?" he asked.

"No," I answered. "We have cats. Does that count?"

He shook his head. "Just make sure you have things to do on your own because Primo will be away a lot."

I thought about what he said - that I should get a life because I wouldn't have Primo around.

And I got a little insulted because hello, my identity is not centered on my husband. I can entertain myself just fine.

Plus what did he think life with an engineer was like? It's not exactly a piece of cake being in the private sector these days.

He left.

A city councilman who supports Stephanie was at the event. He approached me as he worked the room. He reached out his hand, took mine to shake it, and introduced himself, all without making eye contact once with me.

Professional politician.

But no Bill Clinton.

There was also a woman with big hair, fake eyelashes, heavy lipstick, and very high heels.

Yes, I judged her.

She walked up to me and introduced herself. She was very nice. I asked what she was doing at the event and she told me she was with her boyfriend. Her boyfriend the city councilman. Who I learned later has been married three times.

Honey. When you've been married three times, you're the X.

I wanted to tell her to run away, just because her city councilman boyfriend seems like the typical sleazy politician. Once I learned about the three marriages, I was sure she should run. But - not my business.

We didn't talk about the boyfriend. Instead, she told me she ran a cosmetic spa and I could come in for a free facial on her. Which made me wonder how bad I must look if complete strangers are offering me free cosmetic services.

Stephanie finally spoke. Lord have mercy is there anything more boring than listening to a political candidate speak to people who already intend to vote for her?

No there isn't. Blah blah blah. Give me money, do doors, make phone calls.

I tuned out and tried the desserts.

They stank.

They were store bought. Store-bought cookies and brownies. Costco, maybe. There were some homemade cookies, but they were covered with blue frosting, as was the cake. The store cookies were dry. The brownies tasted industrial. Cheap fats, not butter. What is it with PDs that they can't get dessert right?

Primo reported that the wine, however, was excellent.

Not on purpose, but because the host had accidentally opened a $165 bottle of wine, thinking it was an ordinary, serve to people he didn't know, bottle.

It wasn't. It was the Good Wine.

Primo was very happy about the wine.

I feel cheated about the dessert.

We didn't go to the music festival because we were at the fundraiser too late.

Politics sucks for the spouse.

Saturday June 30 No word from the potential employer and our plans get changed AGAIN

1. I emailed the HR lady at Company A on Thursday afternoon to ask if she would have answers to my questions by Friday so I could meet my deadline of giving them an answer about the job on Friday. She wrote that she would email me on Friday - that she was waiting on some approvals - and then she did not email me. Which ticked me off. Because all she had to do was write, "I'm afraid I still don't have the approvals because Big Boss is out of the office, but I expect to have everything resolved by Monday."

2. Seth the crazy political kid posted on Primo's facebook page: "Did you get the check from my PAC?" Now Primo has to figure out how to deal with him. He was just going to not cash the check, but that is probably not going to solve the overall problem of not wanting to be associated with Seth.

3. Since it looks like we are going to lose our good health insurance and get crummy health insurance instead - although in principle I support high-deductible plans because they reduce over-utilization but I am not an over-utilizer so I want the Good Insurance, I got my mammogram and have asked Primo to take care of anything he might need, like a tetanus shot and his dental cleaning. I went to my doc for a physical and I have ordered a new pair of glasses. I don't want any benefit to go unused.

4. Primo and I went to the music fest again last night. We planned to go today to some 10:00 p.m. shows, which is later than I like to be out because I am a boring person who likes my sleep, but where else do you have the chance to see Three Dog Night, ZZ Top, and the Red Hot Chili Pipers all within 15 minutes of each other? And with free tickets?

So we were going to go. And we have a groupon for a Turkish restaurant that expires soon, so we were going to eat at the restaurant, which is half a mile from the festival grounds, then walk over to the festival. Efficient.


Samantha called. She is having a cocktail party for her other candidate. (Yes, she is managing two campaigns.) The party is tonight. She called yesterday. Primo just mentioned it to me now. He wants to go to the party because it will be a good move politically.

Of course it is a good move politically.

But are we supposed to drop everything any time there is a political opportunity?

I am ticked.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Friday June 29 A job I didn't get

The HR woman from Company B (the company with the free parking and casual dress) called. I didn't get the job. I knew that was going to happen. The hiring (or, as we say here, the highering) manager had told me she wanted someone with more experience in financial services.

But - the HR woman told me I was a great candidate - wait - it just struck me - I bet she says that to everyone - and that we should stay in touch.

I feel so cheap.

Friday June 29 The youth vote

We wore the campaign t-shirts to our tennis class. One of the teachers, who just graduated from high school, told Primo, without asking his party affiliation or what he stands for, that she would vote for him.

"Don't vote for him just because he's a pretty face!" I said. "I mean, do vote for him in this case, but usually, you should learn about a candidate first. But it's OK for you to decide right now to vote for Primo."

Yes. I am shameless.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Thursday June 28 Meeting the neighborhood Polka Dot committee

Primo has been invited to the neighborhood Polka Dot committee meeting tonight. He is not excited about going.

"That woman Rainbow is involved," he said. "I met her when I was campaigning for the mayor last year. She's kind of flaky."

"You don't say," I commented.

He sighed. "But I need them. I guess I have to go."

"We could grill steak and play tennis instead," I suggested.

He didn't go for it.

Thursday June 28 More mail, more job stuff, how to divide the labor, going to the music festival

1. Primo and I wore his "Primo for State House" t-shirts to our tennis class and then to the music festival last night. I thought it would be a great marketing opportunity, but then realized that flashing his name to a bunch of overheated, falling-down, vomiting into their beer drunks might not be as fruitful as we thought.

2. Primo has gotten more surveys: ACLU and a bunch more that he cannot remember, even though he never forgets things.

3. I am waiting to hear back from Company A - the company that has offered me a job. Is that Company A? I have asked for more vacation days and a signing bonus to cover the premium for the cobra for the health insurance from Primo's company - there is a long waiting period to get on the insurance at Company A, which is odd because it's not a high-turnover place. [I have since discovered that yes, it is! People don't stick around for low pay and crummy benefits when they have options.] I also need two weeks off at the end of the month and time for my sister's wedding, TBA. I told them I wouldn't expect to be paid for the time, but that we planned this vacation last year.

4. Nothing from Company B, where I had the interview yesterday. And you know what? I'm cool with that. After meeting people from both companies and hearing about what the job would be, I have decided that I would prefer working at Company A. I would prefer the easy commute, free parking, casual dress code, and probably immediate insurance at Company B, but the work at Company A is what I want. The pay stinks (although it is more than I am making now), but the work will be fine.

5. Primo talked to his former boss about taking a leave of absence and former boss didn't want to lose Primo. Primo then emailed current boss to ask him about taking a leave - in his usual style, Primo wrote about 20,000 words to say, "I'm running for office. Even though it's great working here, I would like to take a leave."

His boss replied with a lovely note that said the company really likes Primo and wants to work something out. Ten years of long hours, conference calls at midnight, lots of travel, and excellent work are paying off.

6. I made a ricotta cheesecake with ricotta I got from the bargain counter. Primo doesn't like it. Because I am of the Tribe of We Who Do Not Waste, I will be eating cheesecake for a while.

Monday, January 7, 2013

Wednesday June 27 More mail from Seth the loose cannon high school kid with a PAC

Another letter from Seth, the non-website designer, airer of Polka Dot laundry on facebook, loose cannon kid.

"Is he asking for money again?" Primo groaned.

He opened the letter.

No. Seth is not asking for money.

He is giving money. Twenty five dollars to Primo's campaign.

Primo shook his head. "I don't think I should take this," he said.

I agreed. Taking donations from unhinged people usually comes back to haunt politicians.

Wednesday June 27 Preparing for an interview

Primo and I are both as stressed as we can be. I got an email from Company A (Company B?) yesterday that they do want to interview me in person. This is the company that made me take the online intelligence test, a test that included 30 minutes of word problems, which I could have knocked out with no problem when I was 13 but have not practiced in a while. Here's an example:

If Steven can mix 20 drinks in 5 minutes, Sue can mix 20 drinks in 10 minutes, and Jack can mix 20 drinks in 15 minutes, how much time will it take all 3 of them working together to mix the 20 drinks?

The company informed me that I would be re-tested.


So I spent three hours yesterday practicing word problems.

I did math while I stressed out about the offer from the first company. It's not very much money and the benefits stink. They have a waiting period for the health insurance! You don't get coverage until the first of the month following 30 days of employment! I have never worked at a place with a waiting period. Waiting periods are for low-level, high-turnover jobs. It's almost an insult. That, plus the crummy plan - $2,500 deductible - makes my stomach hurt. Which is not a good thing if you don't have good health insurance.

One of the reasons I need a job ASAP is so that if Primo takes a leave of absence, we'll have the health insurance. He can keep his insurance while he's on a LOA, but he has to pay the entire premium for the entire time he'll be off in advance. Which would be a couple thousand dollars.

This is getting complicated.

And Primo is worried because he knows life will be very tough for his co-workers when he is gone. They are down to half the people they had five years ago but the amount of work has stayed the same. He does not want to burden his friends at work with additional work.

I don't know the answer to that one.

Anyhow, I have an in-person interview with the other company in 84 minutes. At 9:00. I have been up since 5:00 a.m. I couldn't sleep. Couldn't go back to sleep. So I got up, made my coffee, put the cats in the furnace room - they think that if I am up, they should be in the kitchen eating and then should have full roaming rights in the bedroom, but Primo was still asleep, and worked some more on interview prep. After I read "Miss Manners" online, of course.

Cross your fingers for me. They are closer, they wear jeans to work, parking is free instead of $100 a month, and the minimum salary we discussed, although still low, is 20% higher than the salary I have been offered at Company A (or B - I can't remember). Plus they are a software company, which means they recruit tech people, which means they probably have no waiting period for their benefits.

Aidez moi

Hi you guys -

I don't have a lot of time to promote this blog, now that I am working in the corporate salt mines every day again. At my old job, I blogged at work, but I had been there for years and knew everyone and got stuff done and worked 11 hours a day, etc, so there you go. Now, I am the new person and treading very cautiously (even though IT is completely understaffed and I probably wouldn't be found out - still, I would feel guilty).

Anyhow, I want to ask all of you regular readers a favor. Would you each tell one or two friends who might like this blog (if you know anyone who has in-law drama, which I hope you don't, for their sake) about this blog? I would like to get the readership up here as part of my long-term plan to turn the in-law drama and eventually, the political story, into novels that will become bestsellers that will let me go on Oprah and get a free pair of Frette sheets and let Primo quit his job to become a full-time revolutionary.

OK. He's not going to become a revolutionary. Blesshisheart. But after almost 30 years of being an engineer, he wants to do something different and we sure can't afford that on my salary. My salary barely buys used Ferragamos on ebay.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Tuesday June 26 More about the job offer

I spoke to the HR person about the job offer. Both the hiring manager and the managing director have emailed me to tell me how much they want me to come work there. That is really flattering - I have never had that happen before. The hiring manager wrote, "With your knowledge, skill, and experience, you will be an excellent addition to [the company.]"

What's not to like about that?

They are even close on the vacation time: 17 days of PTO. I asked for 24, to match Primo.

The money, however, stinks, stinks, stinks. I didn't give them my salary history because I am so embarrassed to be taking such a huge pay cut. Although it's really not a pay cut if you're not being paid, is it? I should be grateful - and I am - that someone actually wants me in this environment.

I told Primo that if he quits his job, I want him to spend a day cleaning out all the crap in his office: the 12 year old training manuals from his job, the books he has never read and never will, the random stacks of coupons. Clean out as in throw away, not as in move to the basement. His campaign junk is already taking over the guest room and the dining room. If he quits, he cannot complain that he doesn't have time to do such things.