Wednesday, November 14, 2018

In which I take a blog break because I am super busy at work trying to convince the Germans to be happy we are killing their product line

but I will be back soon.

With election results. :)

Everything is fine, I promise. Just super busy and about to go on vacation, so something has to go for now.

Also, life is uneventful, which is excellent.

Monday, November 12, 2018

The Candidate's Wife, or, should I say, The Engineer's wife?

Less than 48 hours ago, one of Primo's former co-workers called to ask Primo if he would be interested in coming back to work.

Primo has since spoke to the woman who would be his boss, a friend he has known and worked with for 20 years. He is now speaking to another former co-worker. 

The job is pretty much his if he wants it.

But - he would like to work in politics.

Which does not pay as much.

And if he returns to his old job, he feels like it would be an admission of defeat (which I can totally understand).

The decision is his, but I am putting my finger on the scales.

Primo: If I go back to work and you're already working, who does the chores?

Me: We would have to re-negotiate.

Primo: If I return to [old job], I wouldn't mind keeping the laundry and the vacuuming because that's easy to do working from home. But I hate cleaning the bathroom. I don't want to do that.

Me: I guess I could take back cleaning the bathroom.  

Primo: Good!

Me: But only if you go back to [old job]. If you get a political job, I'll be making more money than you and I will say you have to do the bathroom.

Primo: But I hate cleaning the bathroom!

Me: I know.

Friday, November 9, 2018

For those who don't believe, Number Nine

I am 54
And this is so, so bizarre because I didn't even think of it as assault, I thought of it as a pass. Who makes a pass at a middle-aged woman wearing a loose sundress?

It's 8 p.m. on an early August evening. I am walking home from the state fair. It's only three miles and Primo is staying late to help with some political stuff. I could take Primo's car, but I don't like driving his car. I could take the bus, but the next bus isn't for 30 minutes.

It's nice. I have time. I can walk.

It's crowded by the fair, but gets less crowded the further north I go.

As I wait to cross a major street, I see a teenager waiting to cross as well.

Because I am such an Enlightened, Good Person, I make eye contact with him and smile slightly. I acknowledge him because are we not humans together on this planet, bound by common experience?

Am I not Noble, to look a young man in the eye, a stranger?

Am I not Good? Am I not Unlike The Others who ignore strangers?

I am! I am Good! I am Noble! I am Enlightened!

I smile in smug satisfaction at myself as I cross.

Finally, I am alone on the sidewalk.

Which I have been waiting for. I didn't mention it to you, but my underwear has been crawling up my butt.

I know! I know! TMI! TMI!

But it's part of the plot.

I am finally alone, so I reach behind me to make the necessary adjustment.

As I pull my hand away, I still feel a hand on my butt.

And I hear a voice say, "Would you like some help with that?"

I turn and  - it's the kid I saw waiting to cross.

He stares at me.

"Stop that!" I order him. "Stop that right now!"

He stares.

"Go away!" I shoo him with my hand. "Go away! This is completely inappropriate! What would your mother say? She would be ashamed of you."

He stares.

"I am old enough to be your grandmother!" I tell him.

I have completely missed the point. Completely.

This? This is not about sex or attraction or flirting.

This is about power and men thinking they can do what they want.

I am not concerned, though. I outweigh this kid by a good 20 pounds and he can't be more than 15 or 16.

"Go away," I tell him. "Just turn around and walk away."

I turn and start walking again.

He follows me.

"Oh my gosh. Would you just go away?"

He doesn't.

I keep walking, but now I am looking at the houses, thinking maybe I should knock on someone's door.

He follows.

"Go away or I'm going to call the police," I say.

He follows.

I turn toward a house and dial 911.

It's a kid following me.

It's not a fire.

I'm not being beaten.

I'm not being robbed.

I'm not being raped.

This? This is not 911.

Yet I call 911.

He follows.

"I am on the phone with the police!" I tell him. "You need to go away!"

As I am talking to the operator - "I am so sorry to bother you with something so trivial," I ring the doorbell.

The kid keeps following, across the grass.

It is only when a man opens the door that the kid decides to leave.

And all I can focus on as I tell my story to the man and his wife is that wait I am 54 years old why would anyone grab the ass of a 54 year old woman?

Saturday, November 3, 2018

For those who don't believe, Number Eight

I am 50
This one - this one I don't even think of as any kind of assault. It's just kind of disgusting.

I wasn't hurt. I wasn't scared. I was more - shocked. And then offended.

It didn't occur to me to think of this as anything other than, "Well, that guy was gross."

It's the middle of the afternoon. I am running on the tree-lined streets in my quiet, middle-class neighborhood.

I notice a car parked and a young man sitting inside it. Odd, I think. It's the middle of the day on a work day (I am working from home). Why isn't that guy at work? Why is he just sitting there?

I continue to trot along. Whatever.

A few minutes later, I notice the same guy parked on the next street.

That's really odd.

Do I notice him a third time? Or is the second time enough for me to be nosy and want to give him a Hey if you're casing the neighborhood, I am watching you. You have been seen.

I try to memorize his car and plates. I'm not good at that kind of thing. I would make a horrible detective.

I approach him.

"Hi there!" I say. "I keep seeing you around."

That's a coded, "Dude. What are you doing? This is not common behavior."

He greets me.

"So - what are you doing?"

He tells me that he wants to start an online real-estate business so he is looking at houses for sale in my neighborhood.

Fine. Whatever. I don't really care what you're doing - I just want you to know that you have been seen because your behavior is not the behavior one expects in the middle of a workday.

And this is where I get really stupid and why I'm kind of embarrassed - no, not kind of - completely embarrassed to tell this story and I almost didn't tell it because I feel like I kind of asked for it.

I joke. I joke to dispel the awkward of, "I approached you because I am suspicious hahahaha but really I'm sure there's a perfectly good explanation and this is none of my business anyhow."

I say, "Yeah, I'm pretty sure you're not just following a chubby middle-aged woman out for a run."


It's embarrassing even typing these words.

I should not have said that.

Why did I say that?

Why didn't I just go along on my way?

I am an idiot.

Because apparently,,  my comment  opens the door for him.

"Oh you got some nice jiggle!" he says.



This is not where I saw things going. I expected him to laugh and be on his way.

But - I stupidly said it.

I laugh nervously.

And he says something about how he likes thick women and is my husband thick --

"We are not having this conversation," I say. I back away.

"No, no, no! Come here!" he says.

And - I see his arm moving up and down.

And. I run.

I am an idiot.

Tuesday, October 30, 2018

In which The Woman Fights Back

You guys, run, do not walk, to your bookstore or your library to get my friend Jeff Abbott's new book, The Three Beths. It is worth it just for this scene. (I mean, it's worth it for all of it, but THIS SCENE!)

A young man with a weasel's smile had stopped at the patio's fence along the shopping center walkway and was trying to chat up the solitary young woman, who was trying to focus on her book.

"That a good book?" he asked. "You could turn my pages."

The young woman didn't answer, but she fidgeted in the seat, eyes on the page.

"Question is why a fine young babe l like you needs to fill her time reading when I'm right here, ready to buy you a drink."

"I'm not interested, thanks," the young woman said. "I have a boyfriend."

"Yet here you are alone."

"No, thanks."

The jerk took immediate offense. "Listen, you think you too good for me? You're not."

"Excuse me," Mariah said. She stood and walked over to the table.

"Mariah..." Reveal started to say,  but he kept his seat.

"Please, I'm just trying to read in peace," the young woman said to the jerk. An angry edge in her voice now. "Go away, I'm not interested."

"Listen, books make you into a snotty bitch, from what I can see," the jerk said.

"Hey," Mariah said, now standing at the woman's table, across from the jerk. She was tall, but not quite as tall as he was. "She said she's not interested. Move along."

The jerk smiled. Then he laughed. Mariah watched him study and gauge her  and could imagine his thoughts. Here was this tall, solid, mouthy annoyance, dressed in black slacks, black mock turtleneck, even a black barrette holding back her hair. "Listen, was I talking to your ugly face? Is this patio bitch central? Because all of you need to..."

At the word need he jabbed a finger at Mariah, and a sudden sharp rage rose in her chest. Her hand lashed out and caught one of his fingers and wrenched it. The jerk's mouth opened in pain; he tried to pull the hand back, but with the table between them Mariah had the leverage.

"Another millimeter, genius, and it breaks," she said gently. "Step back and walk away. And consider how you talk to women. I mean, has this idiotic banter ever worked for you? Ever?"

"You whore..." and he tried to yank his hand back.

The snap of the breaking bone was loud.

Oh. Yes. This is so satisfying.

Friday, October 26, 2018

For those who don't believe, Number Six

I am 24
I am 24 and I have had a few boyfriends. I think this happens after Friends' Boss, but I can't remember. I remember these events by where I was living at the time. Friends' Boss and The Broker Who Kissed Me both happen while I am living in the apartment off Steck Ave in Austin.

I date the Turkish guy when I rent the house on Indian Trail with my friend Rebecca.

The Dentist happens when I am in the duplex on Stamford.

Nobody while I am in the duplex on Windsor.


I am 24 and I dated my college boyfriend - Calvin, the one I almost married, and a sweet, sweet man for about six months in Houston before I  move to Austin.

And maybe Friends' Boss or maybe he is after.

I can't remember.

I work for an insurance company. We work with brokers. The brokers bring us the requests for proposal. I am paid a salary, but I get a bonus for every new account I sell. It is in my financial interests to develop and maintain good relationships with my brokers.

A broker comes to us for a bid. My boss tells me to work with him. So I do.

I like Broker. He is funny and nice.

He is also old. So so old. He must be at least 50. Like - he is my dad's age.


Ancient and married and someone from work which, I have learned, is not a good idea, as sweet, sweet man in Houston works for the same company I do and working with someone I date was not the problem. It was working with someone I used to date that was not so great.

Don't get your honey where you get your money. I learned that lesson and have abided (abode?) by it since.

Let's list the facts again:

  • It's WORK
  • He's OLD
  • He's MARRIED
  • It's WORK
But I have fun with broker. I like talking to him.

If you talk to a man and you laugh at his jokes, does that mean you want him to kiss you?

What is the standard of behavior a woman must maintain to make it clear that no advances, verbal or physical, are welcome?

How must a woman dress? What must she say? What must she do? How must she look?

Are my navy blue Joseph Banks suits with the starched white blouses and those stupid bow ties too provocative?

Is it that I have conversations with Broker?

Surely I do something.

For when he kisses me - which he does when I see him on my way home from the grocery store and pull the car over to say hi at the soccer field where he is coaching a kids' team - and when I tell my boss I no longer want to work with him because he kissed me, my boss tells me that I must have done something to invite that behavior.

In my world, a kiss on the lips is not usual in professional relationships. A kiss on the cheek is not even usual in professional relationships. I will hug some of my corporate HQ co-workers I see only twice a year, but - I initiate the hug.

I have never thought I should kiss them, even on the cheek, and have never thought such a thing would be appropriate.

But in my boss's mind, I have done something to make Broker think I want him to kiss me on the lips and that such behavior would be welcome.

It was my fault. I asked for it. 

Monday, October 22, 2018

For those who don't believe, Number Five

I am 23
I am living in Austin. I meet my friends' boss. He is in his early 30s. I think he's kind of hot, but - he's old and he's my friends' boss and he has a girlfriend anyhow.

Friends' Boss (FB) quits his job to return to school - out of town - for a master's degree. He comes back to Austin for spring break and shows up at a party I am attending with my friends. We talk. A lot. He has broken up with his girlfriend. So I flirt with him, as much as I know how.

(Remember, I am the girl who was not asked to a single high-school dance - except the ROTC ball, which is still weird, because I never had one nice conversation with the guy who asked me.)

In retrospect, I see that youth is its own beauty. Twenty three is gorgeous. Twenty three is firm and unblemished and glossy.

This one is the hardest to write. I don't think I have ever told this story to anyone in real life. (I may have written about it here before.)

I told it to Primo last week and his first reaction was, "But - but why did you see him again?"

And Primo is the person who loves me most in the world outside of my mother, my brother, my sister, and my other blood relations.

When the person who loves you the most questions your actions, how do you not question them yourself?

This is the one that causes me the most shame. The one that makes me question myself the most. The one that makes  me blame myself.


All I want is for my space and my voice to be respected. All I want is to sit in a seat and not be bothered by some man who decides that his desire for company overrides my desire not for company. All I want is to be able to tell a man to leave me alone and have him LEAVE ME ALONE.

No. All I want is NOT TO HAVE TO TELL HIM THAT IN THE FIRST PLACE. What makes some men think that they get to decide everything? That just because THEY WANT, I have to listen?

So FB calls me from Houston after the party. He wants to see me again.

Stupid me. I think he means take me on a date. Sure! I tell him.

He knocks on my door the next day. I don't remember what we do - maybe we do go out to eat. When we return to my apartment, I ask him - out of politeness, more than anything - where he is staying.

"With you!" he says.


That was not  my plan.

"No," I tell him.

And what ensues is an hour-long conversation - and I use that term lightly - in which he convinces me he can stay - "I guess you can sleep on the couch" - and then convinces me to let him into my bed -


This is why I don't tell this story. This is why I know this is my fault.

Because I let him.

I let him into my bed.

And then I let him - you know.

And - this is where Primo was in absolute disbelief - I let him visit me again in the summer.

This is the part I don't even understand myself. If he didn't respect my wishes from the outset, why would I let him back into my life?

He was funny and smart and - I was going to type "nice" but how nice are you if you don't respect a woman's "No!"

I liked him.

And maybe by letting him return I don't have to admit to myself that he did not treat me well? That his talking and talking and talking until I finally just wanted him to SHUT UP constituted - what? - is that a form of date rape? I don't think so. I don't. But --- I had no intentions of sleeping with him. None. I hadn't even thought he would stay over at my place, even on the couch.

This one still confuses me. I still don't know what to think.

Except I am still angry.

After visit number two, he writes me passionate letters.

He asks me to move to California with him once he graduates.

I ignore his letters. I ignore his phone calls.

He writes more letters, telling me "not to be afraid of [my] passion," which simultaneously pisses me off and makes me roll my eyes. I'm not afraid of my passion. I'm afraid of him.

He calls one day to tell me he's leaving St Louis and will be in Austin in X hours. I hear the message on my answering machine and look at the clock in a panic.

I grab my purse and leave. I don't come home until after dark.

I never hear from him again.

Four years later, my friend Cathy asked why I hadn't warned her about my former boyfriend.

The only former boyfriend I can think of is Calvin, who is getting married to my former college roommate in a few months, so I am very confused.

No! she says. FB!

Right! She is in that same group of friends who worked for FB.

"He wouldn't leave me alone when I tried to break up!" she said.

I google stalk him every now and then. What would I do if he were nominated for some important position? Today, he just rolls on his very liberal credentials (he's super big in renewable energy). Would a story about his behavior discredit him? Would my story? No. No, it wouldn't, because just re-reading what I wrote, I can see that almost everyone in the world would say that I was asking for it.

This. This is why women don't tell.

Thursday, October 18, 2018

For those who don't believe, Number Four

I am 30, I am 31, I am 32
I don't even think these bear mentioning, just because they are so much part of the culture. It didn't occur to me until yesterday that these would even count as harassment, but then I watched this brilliant piece and it made me remember.

In Panama, in Chile, in Peru, in Guatemala, men say things to women.

It's supposed to be a compliment! they protest.

They say things like, "If I were your pants" or "Saint Michael opened the gates of heaven and an angel fell out!"

The second one is nicer than the first, but - if you are not accustomed to men you do not know talking to you - staring at you - in public, it's disconcerting.

In Panama, in high school, my best friend Julie and I would take the city bus home after swim meets. We'd be at the bus stop in Panama City, two ten graders with wet hair, long t-shirts, and shorts. 

Men would make this weird sucking kissy noise and shout, "!Ay! Chica americana!" as they passed in their cars or walking on the sidewalk.

I'm not sure what we were supposed to do with that.

It's disconcerting to have men yell things at you. You are used to the rules in the US, where a man yelling at you on the street (at least in Texas) can precede a man attacking you. When I got to Chile, men yelled things at me. I started planning my escape routes - where could I go if the situation became dangerous? Was there a house nearby? A major street? A cop?

After a while, I got used to it. It was just part of the landscape. I asked Chilean women about it and they laughed it off. "It's just what men DO," they explained.

I go to the movies on Sunday afternoon. There is nothing else to do - everything else is closed. 

The movie theater is almost empty. I pick a seat in the middle.

Five minutes later, a man walks in. He looks around. He sees all the empty seats. 

He sits right. Next. To. Me.

I exhale impatiently and move five seats over.

He moves and sits next to me again.

"There are a million empty seats! Why can't you sit in one of them?" I hiss angrily.

I tell this story at work the next day. My female co-workers - I work with a co-op of indigenous women whose main purpose is the empowerment of women - laugh and tell me that a woman who goes to the movies alone is trying to get picked up.

A Chilean woman is nostalgic for La Dictadura. 

"There were no rapes then," she says.

"There were no rapes reported," I answer.

When I finish my Peace Corps stint, I return to the US by land. 

I find seats by myself on trains, buses, ferries. I find seats alone when there are plenty of other empty seats.

Men sit by me.

I move. 

They move with me.

I politely ask them to sit elsewhere.

They do not.

They start talking to me.

I tell them I do not want to talk and to leave me alone.

They ask, concerned, if I am not feeling well.

Because the only possible reason a woman would not welcome male attention would be if she were ill.

Friday, October 12, 2018

For those who don't believe, Number Three

I am 28
I am in grad school and I work for a finance professor. I really like Prof S. He's brilliant and funny and nice.

I like him in the way I like all brilliant, funny, and nice men my mother's age.

He's a nice guy who is my mother's age. As in, he is OLD.

And he is married.

But even if he weren't married, he would be OLD.

He calls me to tell me I can't work for him anymore.

"My wife doesn't like me working with nubile young women," he says.

I am confused.

Since when am I nubile? Have I been nubile around him? I am a bespectacled, slightly-chubby, ordinary-looking woman who gets her hair cut at SuperCuts (grad school, remember?) and who wears baggy jeans and sweatshirts. Is that nubile?

He paid $20/hour. I needed the money.

I am 33
After I return from the Peace Corps, I go back to Austin to look for work. I use the placement office at the business school and run into Prof S. He needs some work done and hires me. I am grateful. I work at his school office and at his house. I am careful to look not nubile in both places. I have met his wife. I don't want to offend her or prompt her to ask Prof S to fire me.

I use Prof S as a reference. He talks to the people who hire me in Miami.

Me: What did they ask? Do I know Black Scholes? Can I calculate an NPV?

Prof S: If you come to work on time.

Me: I am a top graduate - a 4.0 GPA - of a top business program and they asked you if I come to work on time?

Prof S: Yes.

I start my new job. My new boss got his MBA at Chicago, where Prof S also teaches. Turns out my new boss had a class with Prof S. Small world!

There is a problem with one of my paychecks from Prof S. I call him to straighten it out.

Prof S: How are you liking Miami?

Me: I love it!

Prof S: I've never been to Miami.

Me: Well, you and Mrs Prof S need to visit. It's a great city.

Prof S: I would like to visit.

Me: I have a spare bedroom. You guys are welcome to stay.

Prof S: Mrs Prof S can't come.

Me: Oh....

Prof S: Are you dating anyone?

Me: Nope. Out of practice.

Prof S: I could come and we could practice sex together me.

Me: What?

Prof S: You and me. We could practice sex together.

Me: Stop! STOP! You are a married man! Do not talk to me like this!

I tell my boss immediately. "Can you believe he talked to me like that?"

My boss cannot believe it. But - he believes me.

Monday, October 8, 2018

For those who don't believe, Number Two

I am 22
I am in my first job out of college. I have traveled to the Albuquerque office to give a training session about a new product. I am 22 and a woman. The people in the office are almost all men and range in age from early 20s to early 60s.

I am sitting at a desk making a phone call.

I feel hands on my neck.

Let me say that again.

I am AT WORK in an office where I do not know anyone. And I feel hands on my neck.

I feel hands on my neck and I freeze. The hands stroke my neck and shoulders. The hands gently squeeze my neck and shoulders.

I remove the phone from my ear and my arm freezes. I stop speaking. I stop speaking from shock. I stop speaking because I don't even know the words to say.

I am 22
I am still at the Albuquerque office. A group of us are at lunch, including the neck massager.

He asks, "Would you like to have dinner tonight?"

I don't know what to say. No, of course I don't want to have dinner with you, you creepy old man! I don't want to have dinner with a stranger. I don't want to spend my after-work hours with someone from work. And I especially don't want to have dinner with an old man like you!

But - I don't know what to say.

And - I have to protect a man's ego, don't I? I can't shame him! Because men's feelings are more important than women's feelings.

I think desperately. What do I say? How do I get out of this?

Can I say he's too old for me?

No! That would be rude.

So I say, "I think I might be too young for you."

His friends laugh and his face turns red.

The then-me was horrified and concerned.

The now-me thinks, "That's what you get, asshole, for preying on a young woman at work."

Thursday, October 4, 2018

For those who don't believe, Number One

And these aren't even bad. I wasn't hurt. I was ashamed for some of them, but - never hurt.

But in almost every case, my wishes, my voice, my space - subordinate to what a man wanted. There are men like this.

I am five
I am at the park across the street from our apartment with my friend. We are playing on the swings.

This is back in the days when parents would let their children go to the park alone. I still think it's OK to let children go to a park alone. Just teach them.

My friend and I are playing. A man sits on the swing next to us. I notice he has some weird pink thing on his lap.

I realize that the pink thing is his penis. I have a brother. I have seen a penis before. And even though I am only five, I know that a penis is not something you show to other people.

Then he asks us if we want to go into the men's room with him.

We run back to my apartment and tell my mother, who calls the police immediately.

My friend says he had long hair and was wearing jeans. I remember that he had short hair and was wearing khakis. (I doubt I knew the word "khakis" at that age, but whatever.) We disagree on every aspect of the story except

  • He had a pink thing in his lap, a pink thing that was his penis
  • He asked us to go into the men's room with him

I am eight
We live on a military base in Spain. A  military base has controlled access. This one has a barbed-wire fence around the perimeter; that perimeter is patrolled. You do not get though the gate without proper identification. If you wanted to walk or drive onto the air force base near where you live, you probably would not be allowed to.

My sister and I are walking home from school. 

We are walking home from school in an area with controlled access.

A man - not in uniform - approaches us. His penis is hanging out of his pants.

I am twelve
My friend and I are walking home from school. It's the middle of the afternoon. 

You know where this is going. A man walks toward us with his penis hanging out of his pants.

Honestly. What do these guys think will happen? That we will be so entranced that we will forget that we are just little girls and decide that we want to play with that thing? Even as an adult, I don't understand the purpose of penis photos. Are they supposed to make me interested? Titillate me? What is the point?

Sunday, September 30, 2018

The Candidate's Wife: Every time I think there is nothing more to write about, there is

You guys, I have not been writing much. Primo has backed way out of politics, which means - not much political stuff to write about.

I mean, sure, there is a ton of political stuff to write about, but - I am not interested in writing about politics.

I am interested in writing about the politics of politics - the backroom dealings, the brother against brother stuff, the pitting of the county mayor against the county board, even though they are allegedly on the same side but in real life, they hate each others' guts and do everything they can to undermine each other because it's not about standing next to each other and doing what's best for the county, it's about each of them doing what's best for themselves and that's a point that Primo doesn't ever see because he is such an idealist but I am cynical and after spending a lot more time around politicians than most people do, have a very low opinion of them.

But - even with Primo being mostly out of the game, there is stuff happening:

1. The mayor sought out Primo's challenger, whom he had never met before, and told her he would endorse her.

Not that Primo doesn't want the mayor to do this - but Primo has met the mayor on many occasions and has helped so many people in their campaigns and - the mayor never offered to endorse him. This is not a game for people who have feelings.

2. People are still angry that Primo withdrew from the race. Every time Primo does attend some political event, people approach him to express their discontent.

May I note here that these people did not donate money to his campaign, volunteer to campaign for him, put his signs in their yard, or even share his facebook posts.

If you don't support a candidate, you don't get to be mad when the candidate decides not to run.

Interestingly, almost all the people who donated to Primo's campaign told him to keep the money. He called every donor and offered to return the money. I think all but one or two said, "Nope. You have already had expenses. And if those expenses are covered, please just give the money to another candidate."

3. Primo's wonderful, sweet political fairy godfather - I can't remember what I have named him here, but he is the one who prepared all the food for Primo's karaoke fundraiser a few years ago - has been talking to the gubernatorial candidate about a job for Primo in the new administration if the candidate wins.

Primo didn't even ask FG to do so. Primo and I went to a fundraiser a few weeks ago and FG was there. After making us a plate of food to take with us - we had only a few minutes, FG told Primo that he thinks Primo would be really good in an appointed position.

I agree.

I think Primo would make very well thought out laws, but the process of getting to those laws? And the process of even being elected?

That's not his thing. He's not competitive enough and he's not a compromiser because how can you compromise if you believe something is right? (This is a nice way of saying Primo is not flexible, but in his world, 2+2=4 and that's just how it is.)(Which is how you want someone designing a microchip that will run an airplane to think.)(But which doesn't work so well in politics.)

Anyhow. We shall see. Maybe Primo will stay in the political world after all.

Which means I will have juicy stories for you.

Thursday, September 27, 2018

The Candidate's Wife: The winner of the Other Side's primary is such a loser that it may be possible for Our Side's candidate (AKA The Challenger) to win

Primo: I could have beaten this guy! I can't believe he won the [Other Side's] primary!

Me: Me, neither! I thought everyone knew he was a total loser! Especially after that debacle in the legislature!

[Loser Candidate held another state-level elected office and - without going into great detail - completely screwed it up. I mean, total, total loser. Even my friend at work who is very Other Side and lives in our district was shaking his head about that one.]

Primo: I guess all people care about is if they've heard the name before.

Me: You could have beaten him.

Primo: I know.

Me: Do you care?

Primo: Nope. I keep wondering if I'll regret my decision, but - I am really happy!

Monday, September 24, 2018

The Candidate's Wife: Primo gets an unsolicited offer for unsolicited advice from someone who badmouthed him

There's this guy. Let's call him Otto. (I was going to use "Bob" but I think I have already used it.)


Months ago, Otto was pissed that Primo wouldn't put up a yard sign for Otto's candidate in the city council election.

He had messaged Primo on facebook to ask if Primo wanted Otto's candidate's yard sign.

Primo had answered, "I'm voting for her but haven't decided whether to publicly endorse. I sat down with [her opponent] and it seems to me that he is quite reasonable."

As in, Primo didn't have strong feelings one way or another about these two candidates because he thought they were both decent.

Otto answered, "Hmmmm. I'm not sure how I feel about that. I rather prefer politicians that commit."

Which fine - Otto is totally allowed to have that opinion.

But then he started trash talking Primo to other people, including one of Primo's really good political friends, who shared everything with Primo. So we know.

Today, this happened.

Otto: are you taking a break from running for office?

Primo: Probably not "taking a break," but I don't have a long-term plan for doing (or not doing) anything specific. Why do you ask?

Otto: Just thinking about you. FWIW - I'm still willing to provide advice, etc. if you begin thinking about candidacy again in the future.

Primo: Thanks. You are a community leader on an important issue. Perhaps we should sit down and talk someday instead of just trading occasional facebook messages.


Me: What a jerk!

Me: "Still" willing to provide advice?

Me: What standing does he have to provide advice anyhow?

Me: Meet with him so I can write about it.

Friday, September 21, 2018

The Candidate's Wife: Primo calls his contributors to tell them why he is withdrawing and asks them if they want their money back

Fortunately, most of them say no.

I say "fortunately" because campaigning is not a money-making endeavor and Primo has already paid his campaign manager and paid the graphic artist who designed his door lit and paid for a few fundraising events (which - never raise that much money because we do not know rich people) and paid the hosting fees for his website.

That is, the campaign has incurred expenses along the way.

Most donors say they know Primo has already incurred expenses, so either use their money to pay for those expenses or give the money to other good candidates.

It is not easy, to call people who have so generously given you money because they believe in you and want you to win.

It feels like you are letting them down.

It feels like you are betraying their trust.

But Primo does it.

And people are kind and generous and they understand - pretty much any rational person has no interest in running for public office. That's why they were excited about Primo - he is different. He is not in it for ego or power. He is not in it for himself.

He said, "I don't have anything to prove to anyone. I've had a successful career. I can return to that career if I want. I wasn't trying to gain power or make a name for myself. I have other things in my life. I just wanted to make things better for other people."

And he's sincere when he says that. He is wrong :) in some of the ways he wants to get things done, but he really was not on a power trip.

Which is why it's OK for someone else to run when that someone else shares his beliefs.

And why I think his donors don't feel like they've been lied to or cheated. It was never about Primo. Ever.

Saturday, September 15, 2018

The Candidate's Wife: Primo goes to a campaign event for The Challenger

who wrote,

Thanks to everyone who came! The Challenger here, and I have a few things I'd like to say. I'll post 2 now, and another later when I have a few more minutes. These two are people I forgot to thank last night- I realized it later in the evening.
First, Primo. As many of you might know, Primo was my primary opponent until he endorsed me. Primo has long cared for our district, and he came last night to support the Kickoff--- which shows what a class act he is.
Primo has been tremendously supportive of our campaign, and we appreciate him for that. Thanks, Primo, for coming, and for all your support!

which was very nice, I thought.

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

The Candidate's Wife: Primo talks The Challenger off the ledge after someone tells her she has to raise $100,000 to be a credible candidate

This is the bullshit people tell candidates. That you have to raise a ton of money and then spend it.

Yes, money is important to campaigning because graphic artists do not (nor should they) work for free. Printers do not (nor should they) work for free. Campaign managers do not (nor should they) work for free, although if any of you ever even think of hiring the campaign manager Primo had for his first campaign, please let me talk you out of it.

Also - if you hire a campaign manager - and we LOVE Primo's former campaign manager - please write some sort of agreement about what CM will do. CM did earn his money by listening to Primo's angst, but I would have liked some more objective accomplishments.

But I digress.

It does cost money to run a campaign. Clipboards cost money. Stamps cost money. Gas costs money. Even a DIY campaign from your own house, where you are not paying rent on a campaign office, costs money.

But boots on the ground and the zeitgeist matter more than almost anything else, I think. There are candidates who spend 20 % or 10% of what their opponents spend and still win. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez raised a lot less money than her incumbent opponent but yet she won. Her message resonated with voters. She resonated with voters.

And honestly? I am happy to see a ten-term incumbent ousted. Nobody should hold an office for ten terms. Nobody. Nobody is that good. And being in office takes you further from voters, not closer to them. They work for us. They should understand our lives.

Back to the money. The money is necessary. There are expenses, even in a grassroots campaign. But if you can capture the hearts of voters, you can do without expensive TV ads. You can do without being rich or having rich friends.

The Challenger does not need $100,000. She needs a great message and voters who are tired of this crap.

Sunday, September 9, 2018

The Candidate's Wife: The architect who implied that Primo was racist because we did not want high-density housing replacing the church parking lot two blocks from our house is upset that Primo dropped out of the primary because he felt like Primo owed him something? Not sure

Primo: The architect? For those apartments?

Me: Yes. The one who kept telling you that high-density housing increases property values? Which is why you see so much of it in rich neighborhoods?

Primo: Yes. He is upset that I dropped out of the primary.

Me: Why? Why does he care?

Primo: He thinks I have an obligation to the voters.

Me: But - you and The Challenger agree on the issues. So it's not like the voters have lost a voice.

Primo: He thinks I should have fought it out with her.

Me: About what? You guys agree!

Primo: He said that point of a primary is to "sharpen the sword."

Me: So - did he ever give money to your campaign? Did he ever volunteer to do doors for you? Did he volunteer to phone bank for you? Did he want a yard sign? Did he share your facebook posts and ask his friends to vote for you? Did he come to any of your events?

Primo: Nope.

Me: So - he wants a sharp sword but he doesn't want to do any of the work.

Primo: Exactly.

Thursday, September 6, 2018

The Candidate's Wife: Primo asks The Challenger why she didn't talk to him before she announced she was running and she says she knew he would try to talk her out of it WHICH IS TRUE

Oh yeah. I meant to post this yesterday.

So not much more to say about this. Primo and The Challenger have become friends. They now speak honestly. And he asked her why she didn't talk to him before announcing, which apparently is comme il faut, but

1. The Challenger is not a party insider and
2. She didn't know the rules and
3. Even if she had known the rules, so what? Who says that we have to abide by unspoken rules made by groups in which we are not participants?

Primo and I argue about that principle a lot. Example - he comes down hard on people who do not speak standard English.

(OK - I know the rules about standard English are not unspoken - just go with it.)

I point out that there is no intrinsic right or wrong about language.

He, the son of a snobbish English professor, insists that there is Right English and Wrong English and One Must Speak Correctly.

I say Right English is whatever is imposed by the dominant culture but that speaking non-standard English does not make someone morally corrupt.

He thinks it makes someone Wrong Wrong Wrong not to speak properly. That's one of the reasons it takes him so long to compose an email or a facebook post - he has to make sure it's perfect.

Clearly, as evidenced by this blog, I do not spend hours copyediting. (Blogger is telling me that I am spelling "copyediting" wrong.)

Language, I tell him, is just dialect with an army.

I finally convinced him.

Well, I didn't. A young woman did.

We saw a play at a local college that an African American student wrote about the African American experience. In it, she talks about how if white people can learn to pronounce names like Pfieffer and Ziegler, we can take a minute to learn how to pronounce African American names.

And - he was convinced.

So I won.

And yes - Primo would have tried to talk The Challenger out of running. She was worried she would have let him convince her. So I am glad she didn't talk to him! I am happy that Primo is out of this game.

Monday, August 20, 2018

#NotDeadYet #WaitSheIsDead

This came for Doris.

1. Doris is dead. She has been dead for three years.
2. Doris never lived at our address.
3. Companies that sell mailing lists apparently do not validate their lists against the "Deceased do not contact" list. Or - maybe they do?
4. Doris never owned a timeshare.
5. I guess timeshare owners are presumed to be unable to use the internet?
6. Keep sending junk mail, you idiots. Using paper helps the stability of my potential pension and using the USPO keeps my first-class mail rates down.

Friday, August 17, 2018

The Candidate's Wife: Primo writes a lovely letter explaining why he is withdrawing from the race and gets more accolades from that then he ever did for running, it seems

So there you go.

Not only did he withdraw from the race, he endorsed The Challenger.

"I think you would like her," he says. "She is very nice."

Thursday, August 16, 2018

The Candidate's Wife: To endorse or not to endorse - Reader's Digest version because the actual transcript would bore you to tears

Me: No.

Primo: Maybe.

Me: Nononono.

Primo: Maybe.

Me: Why should you?

Primo: Party unity.

Me: Screw the party.

Primo: I know.

Me: Honestly. Why should she get your literal political capital?

Primo: Because I still want her to win the seat because it's good for my side and because after spending time with her yesterday, I like her.

Me: Uh huh.

Primo: She is really very nice.

Me: But we don't like her!

Primo: I know...


Primo: But - after talking to her, I realize she is actually very nice.

Me: And Not Running Again! And Other Political Guy Who Tweeted About Her!

Primo: I asked her about that. NRA is her neighbor. She's never even met OPG and was horrified at the idea of developing that land.

Me: She seems clueless. Her issues...

Primo: We might have been wrong about that. I asked her about the human trafficking. She said that she has been working at weddings in our district and has seen women being taken to rooms - women she knows are victims of human trafficking.

Me: I hate being wrong. Were we wrong about EVERYTHING?

Primo: I don't know. Her speeches are bad.

Me: But only because she hasn't had practice.

Primo: Yes. I was bad at first.

Me: And then you listened to me and got better.

Primo: I think I might endorse her.

Me: But we don't like her!

Primo: But maybe we do? She really is very nice.


Primo: It's the right thing to do.

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

The Candidate's Wife: Primo meets with The Challenger and tells her he is withdrawing from the race and the angels weep

Time remaining for Primo to collect another 300 signatures for his nominating petition: Eight days but it doesn't matter because he is withdrawing from the race

Number of signatures it is reasonable to collect on a weekend day when you are not facing a primary challenger who is covering the same territory you are: 40

Number of signatures it is reasonable to collect on a weekday when you are not facing a primary challenger who is covering the same territory you are: a lot fewer than 40

Saturday, August 11, 2018

The Candidate's Wife: Primo's campaign manager tells Primo that he cannot just get his name on the ballot and then not campaign

Time remaining for Primo to collect another 300 signatures for his nominating petition: Ten days 

Number of signatures it is reasonable to collect on a weekend day when you are not facing a primary challenger who is covering the same territory you are: 40

Number of signatures it is reasonable to collect on a weekday when you are not facing a primary challenger who is covering the same territory you are: a lot fewer than 40

Campaign manager: That's unethical! You can't do that!

Me: Um. This is POLITICS.

Primo: He's right.

Me: You guys do know how non-politicians see politicians, right? We think you are all lying jerks. Not you, Primo, but the generic You Politicians.

CM: Primo. You cannot just put your name on the ballot and then not campaign.

Me: But - if he campaigns for the primary, we will have to skip our vacation in July.

Primo: We can move the dates to August instead.

Me: But I don't want to go in August!

[Yes I know I am being childish.]

Tuesday, August 7, 2018

The Candidate's Wife: We return home and Primo goes to some political things and still doesn't decide

Time remaining for Primo to collect another 300 signatures for his nominating petition: 17 days 

Number of signatures it is reasonable to collect on a weekend day when you are not facing a primary challenger who is covering the same territory you are: 40

Number of signatures it is reasonable to collect on a weekday when you are not facing a primary challenger who is covering the same territory you are: a lot fewer than 40

Again, I offer you the Reader's Digest version and not the hours and hours and hours version.

Primo: Should I run?

Me: Well, I would be happier if you didn't, but I support you whatever you decide.

Primo: Should I?

Me: You could make sure you get on the ballot but then not campaign.

Primo: That doesn't seem right. People have donated money to my campaign. If they are going to donate, I need to do the work.

Me: Yes, I suppose so.

Primo: Should I run?

Me: I can't tell you that, sweetie.

Saturday, August 4, 2018

The Candidate's Wife: We go to my mom's for Mothers Day and Primo realizes that life without campaigning is actually kind of - nice - but he is still cranky that nobody from The Party has given The Challenger A Stern Talking To even though he knows in his heart that That Is Wrong And The Party Should Stay Out Of It

In the meantime, this happens:

Messaging to Primo, who is going to the store, as my mom is sitting right next to us:

Me: (chocolate covered strawberries)

Primo(out loud): Chocolate covered strawberries? Why are you messaging this to me?

Me: Shut. Up.

Primo: But why??

Me (glaring)

Primo: What??

Primo: Ohhhhhh!!!!!!!

Wednesday, August 1, 2018

The Candidate's Wife: Primo takes a week off from campaigning and collecting signatures to Think About Things and wonders if he dares disturb the universe

Time remaining for Primo to collect another 300 signatures for his nominating petition: 21 days but we are at my mom's, so the next few days can't count

Number of signatures it is reasonable to collect on a weekend day when you are not facing a primary challenger who is covering the same territory you are: 40

Number of signatures it is reasonable to collect on a weekday when you are not facing a primary challenger who is covering the same territory you are: a lot fewer than 40

Pretty much every conversation we have for an entire week:

Primo: Should I run?

Me: I can't tell you that.

Primo: I can't believe that all the people I have helped and supported over the past eight years won't fight for me.

Me: That's hard.

Primo: Should I run? I am so pissed off. I don't deserve a primary.

Me: I know. But I can't tell you that.

Primo: I don't want to do a primary. It's hard. I'm tired. I would be the only one of my political friends who would have both a primary fight and a general election fight. The ones who do have primaries don't have serious general challenges and the ones who have general challenges don't have primaries.

Me: I know.

Primo: Should I run?

Monday, July 30, 2018

The Candidate's Wife: Turns out I am an unreliable narrator, although in my defense, I did not have all the facts

So I wrote this headline last month as a reminder about the story - and now I cannot remember what I wanted to write about.

I think it was about how I have been thinking that The Challenger is such an Awful Person but she's not, really. She has a right to run. Any citizen has a right to run. Nobody owns a certain seat and nobody should feel intimidated from running for a seat just because it is somehow perceived that it is someone else's "turn."

There are no turns in politics.

There is only now and what is good for our country and the person for whom people want to vote.

Primo does not have a right to be the only candidate.

But I have been a little bit cranky about it because this was maybe going to be the year he finally won and because we have invested so much emotionally in his running.

Investing emotionally is dangerous. One of the first things you learn in business school is to ignore sunk costs, which is a fancy way of saying that only the now matters.

So take what I say about The Challenger with a grain of salt. I do not know her. I do not know her motivations. I do not know if she is good or bad or mean or nice. What I do know is that she has every right to run. Even if she and Primo do agree on things. Even if it is his turn (which it is not).

Saturday, July 7, 2018

The Candidate's Wife: The Lady or the Tiger

Me: Oh. No.

Primo: What?

Me: [College roommate] posted a photo on facebook of her with [my college boyfriend]. It looks like he's wearing Birkenstocks.

Primo: So?

Me: It makes me think that perhaps, I made the right decision.

Primo: But Birkenstocks are good for people with foot problems.

Me: I don't care.

Primo: Would you rather have a man wearing Birkenstocks or a man who's a politician?

Me: Oh man. That's tough.

Sunday, July 1, 2018

The Candidate's Wife: The Big Developer Supporter tells Primo to quit suggesting there is a connection between Big Developer and The Challenger

Primo has been stating the facts about Big Developer Supporter and BDS's boss, the guy who spent $700K of his own money - well, his daddy's money - to defeat the anti-development forces in the recent elections.

He has been saying that,

1. BDS is endorsing Challenger and has not mentioned any other candidates by name.

2. BDS and BDS's boss support developing a property many of us do not want developed. (Think Central Park in New York City. It's not quite that, but close - it's one of the few undeveloped parcels of land in the metropolitan area and it's beautiful the way it is.)

3. Former City Councilman also has publicly endorsed Challenger.

4. FCC has strong ties to BDS's boss and is in favor of the development.

5. Challenger told Primo that either she or FCC were going to challenge Primo in the primary.

6. Therefore, there is a connection between BDS's boss and Challenger.

BDS sent an angry text to Primo to tell him to QUIT SAYING BDS's boss had recruited Challenger! And BDS was even LESS INCLINED TO SUPPORT PRIMO because Primo is spreading these awful rumors.

Us: Well, BDS might not have technically recruited Challenger, but his fingerprints are all over this.

Thursday, June 28, 2018

Blogger has not been telling me about comments!

You guys, I promise I have not ignored your comments intentionally! Blogger has not been emailing me about comments. I usually write a bunch of posts all at once and then stay away for a week or two, checking comments on hotmail.

I don't know what's going on that blogger has decided to start keeping secrets from me.

While I try to fix that, tell me what this is.

Sunday, June 24, 2018

The Candidate's Wife: A big developer supporter tweets in support of The Challenger

The facts:

1. Primo has been heavily involved in state-level party politics for eight years.

2. The Challenger has not, to Primo's knowledge, ever attended a single party event in the district, in this county, or in the next county. (The district spans two counties.) Which is fine. There are no rules about who can run for office. OK, there are, but having attended events is not one of them.

3. The Big Developer Supporter is very active in state-level politics. His boss is very active. His boss spent a lot of money - $700K* - in the most recent election cycle trying to ensure development-friendly candidates were elected and, more importantly, development-unfriendly candidates were defeated.

4. Big Developer Boss has met Primo. They Do Not Agree on development.

5. There do not appear to be any intersections between BDS and BDSB and The Challenger.

Yet -

When The Challenger got a puff piece about her candidacy (more power to her - she is an excellent marketer) put in the paper, BDS tweeted it, along with a note that "Challenger is one of many bright new candidates!"

We have questions. How does BDS even know who Challenger IS? And why does he support her? BDS has been in our house for an event Primo hosted for another candidate. He knows Primo. He knows where Primo stands.

I guess he does not agree with Primo.

* When you inherit money, I guess it's like water. It seems free.

Saturday, June 23, 2018

The Candidate's Wife: Why not just sight with the left eye?

Oh. Because then he would have to shoot left handed.

And he is right handed.

I hope I have not given you enough information to identify Primo in real life now.

The Candidate's Wife: Will he or won't he?

Primo: The Challenger hasn't posted anything on her facebook page since Thursday.

Me: Since the neighborhood event?

Primo: Yes.

Me: Hmmm.

Primo: Maybe she's intimidated.

Me: Maybe. You and [Next District Candidate] have a lot more gravitas than she does.

Primo: Definitely. [Next District Candidate] does for sure.

Me: Plus he's hot.

Primo: You think so?

Me: Yes. :)

Primo: He's a really interesting guy.

Me: Super accomplished. I always liked working with him.

Primo: Maybe she saw what real candidates look like and got scared.

Me: Maybe. You are both very accomplished and experienced and very thoughtful and knowledgeable about the issues.

Primo: Maybe I should finish collecting signatures.

Me: Maybe.

Primo: Just keep my options open.

Me: I think that's a good idea.

The Candidate's Wife: The turkeys are safe

Me: How was it?

Primo: It was fun! Except for the getting up at 6:00 a.m. part.

Me: What did you like? The quiet? The view? The hanging out?

Primo: It was pretty and it was nice hanging out with [neighbor]. He's a really nice guy.

Me: Except you didn't catch anything.

Primo: I discovered that even though I have really good vision, I can't use a gun scope easily because I can't close my left eye! I can only close my right eye.

[And as I write this, I wonder, "Then why not just sight with your left eye?" I will ask Primo, dear readers! Stay tuned!]

Friday, June 22, 2018

Th Candidate's Wife: Primo goes hunting

Tomorrow, our (very nice) neighbor is taking Primo hunting.

This will be interesting.

Thursday, June 21, 2018

The Candidate's Wife: Primo is tormented about confronting his challenger

Primo: I've been invited to a candidate forum tonight.

Me: Are you going?

Primo: I should. I need to see her speak. But I don't even know if I want to run. It's been so nice this past week not campaigning. We could have our life back!

Me: I know. But I don't want you to regret anything. And I don't want you to withdraw from the race because you are scared of her. It's OK not to want to run or to be a legislator but I think you would regret withdrawing from fear.

Primo: It's not that I'm scared of her; it's that I am so tired of the BS. I ran before because someone had to run. But now, if someone else wants to do it, fine. I don't care. I don't have to have this. I've had my career. I don't need this to pay the bills. I don't need this bullshit from her or from other people in my own party.

Me: I will support whatever you want to do.

Primo: I have to know, but I don't want to deal with her or with Not Running Again.

Me: He's a jerk.

Primo: Maybe I should just go to this other event.

Me: Maybe.

Primo: But I want to see what she says.

Me: So go.

Primo: I don't want to speak. But I would have to. How do I talk about how I am the best candidate if I am not even sure I'm running?

Me: You ARE the best candidate. You ARE the person better positioned to win in November. You have been involved in trying to make things better for the people in our district for eight years. You're the one who's been in it since the beginning, not the one who shows up only when there is a chance for your party to win.

Primo: I am.

Me: You could just hit your talking points and ignore her.

Primo: I could.

Me: You talk about how you've been here from the start and how your numbers have gone up in each election and you have the name recognition and are the one who can beat the other party.

Primo: What if she says something about me when she talks?

Me: You don't address anything she says. You stick to your script. You don't let yourself get distracted.

Primo: But what if she brings up the highway construction?

Me: Then you ignore her. People who know you know this has been in your platform from the beginning. You have been writing about it for months now. Here's what you do - you talk about how the district has not been winnable since 2010, when the lines were re-drawn, but that you have been in it since then, fighting for the people of [the state], speaking at public hearings, protesting, whatever. Because she is going to say, "Why should you vote for this middle-aged guy who has lost three elections? It's time for someone new, blah blah blah."

Primo: She won't say that!

Me: She would if I were coaching her.

Primo: Why?

Me: Because those are your perceived weak points and that's where I would have her attack you! You have run three times and have not won. You need to make sure people understand that the district has not been winnable until now - that even the incumbent [who was from Primo's party] wouldn't run again after the re-districting.

Primo: You think she would say that?

Me: I would tell her to. I would also tell her to hit the woman and mom thing hard. Which means you have to make sure to refer to [his stepdaughters and grandchildren]. People think that people without children don't have a stake in the future. You do have children. You have grandchildren. You talk about public education and college costs and say that you were able to pay to send your two stepdaughters to college but you worry that college is becoming unaffordable and that it might not be so easy for your grandchildren to go. You just mention them - don't make a big deal of it - but get it into the conversation that you have kids.

Primo: OK.

Me: Stick to your script. Don't let her throw you. Ignore what she says. You can do this. You really are the better candidate.

Primo: People who I thought were my friends are supporting her.

Me: That just means they are better friends with her. And it's just four people, right?

Primo: What if I see NRA?

Me: You give him the cut direct.

Primo: I pretend I don't see him?

Me: Exactly.

Primo: I just act like he's not there?

Me: Yes.

Primo: What if he talks to me?

Me: Cordial response, look past his shoulder, say, "Excuse me, I have to talk to whoever."

Primo: I don't like him.

Me: He's a jerk.

Primo: This whole thing has me so stressed out.

Me: I know, baby. It's hard.

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

The Candidate's Wife: Primo's own party criticizes him and he thinks, Really, guys? and - I love him but politics is not for people who expect niceness

To which I say, "You know this is what life would be like every single day if you became a legislator? That people in your own party will be pissed at you if you don't toe the party line every single time? That you will face criticism from within the party unless you do exactly what they tell you to do?"

What did Primo do to make The Legislator Who Compared Himself to Thomas Jefferson and James Madison upset?

(Sort of compared himself, but Primo's campaign manager nodded sagely when I told him the story of how Legislator wondered why I didn't help Primo campaign and how our Founding Fathers were not citizen legislators. CM said, "Yeah, he does that.")

Primo went to a teacher protest.

A union leader posted a photo on facebook about the protest and wrote he wondered why more legislators from the school district had not attended the protest.

Primo commented that he had wondered the same thing.

As soon as Primo told me that, I thought, "Oh no. That - was not wise."

But Primo does not read behind the lines and takes everything at face value and he says what he means and doesn't do passive-aggressive.

So he was just wondering.

That's all.

But - ouch.

"You - sort of - called them all out," I said.

He was bewildered. "But I just wondered! And then Legislator Who Is Not Thomas Jefferson got really mad and sent me a message and copied a lot of the other legislators."

Me: Ignore him. Campaign Manager says he's a punk and he's right.

Primo: But I wasn't trying to insult him!

Me: Yeah. I know. But - I can see why he might take it that way.

Primo: But I would never insult him like that! Not on purpose!

Me: Perhaps in the future, it might be a good idea not - to make that kind of comment. People can take it wrong.

Primo: Campaign Manager thinks I need to apologize.

Me: He's right. You didn't intentionally harm him, but man - there is nothing to make people as angry as being called on something when they are wrong. He knows he should have been there or otherwise supported it and he's stung because what you said was true. Still, you need to apologize.

Primo: I don't want to.

Me: I know.

Primo: And then he wrote that he doesn't like how I am campaigning.

Me: It's not his campaign.

Primo: He's making me mad.

Me: You need to ignore him.

Primo: I can't!

Me: You know that this is what it will be like all the time if you win, right? You know this is what politics is like. You're used to facts. Politics is not about facts. It's not about doing the right thing. It's about alliances and making deals and stabbing people in the back.

Primo: But - I want to do the right thing!

Me: Then maybe you should go back to engineering.

Saturday, June 9, 2018

The Candidate's Wife: The primary challenger is very worried about dividing the neighborhood, to which I say, Then why are you running?


Because Challenger won and is fabulous and we love her, I feel really bad about what I wrote. But this is how I felt at the time. I WAS WRONG. CHALLENGER IS GREAT.

The law here is that you can sign the nominating petition for only one candidate for the office. Even if there are people running from both parties, you can sign only one petition.


You can sign only one petition.

If you sign more than one petition for the same position, your signature will be invalidated on all petitions and will not count for anyone.

So Primo's volunteers, although they did not mention the primary, did ask if people had signed any nominating petitions.

Because it's really not a primary-specific question - even if Primo were unopposed, someone from the other party could have asked the person to sign.

Primo's volunteers discovered that some people had already signed the challenger's petition, but there did not seem to be a coordinated, organized approach to getting signatures.

(Primo pays to use the party database, which indicates who has voted in which elections and has a measure, if known, of where the person is on the political spectrum. We use the lists to decide, block by block, which doors should be knocked.)

Primo's opponent texted him this morning:

I want to let you know that we have had numerous reports while collecting signatures that people who signed your clipboards did not know there's a primary, and that they didn't know they could only sign for one of us so they signed for both. Since that nullifies those signatures, I thought you should know the volunteers didn't seem to understand that. My people halted that whenever possible so that your signatories didn't sign ours and negate your signatures. We sure wouldn't want to end up with duplicate signatures so I wanted to let you know.


Apparently, the challenger's volunteers did not know to ask if someone had already signed.

Which is the correct process.

But no - why on earth would Primo volunteer that there is a primary? The primary is not relevant to any of this. Primo has to collect signatures whether or not there is a primary.

Primo and his volunteers asked if people had already signed. They know quite well that multiple signatures render the duplicates void.

That's all you need to ask.




Sunday, June 3, 2018

The Candidate's Wife: What we, the 99%, want

After the guy sitting next to us at a Patsy Cline/Elvis tribute concert at a suburban bar learns Primo is running for the state legislature.

Guy: I don't want to hear long speeches. I turn them off if they go too long. What I want is someone who knows me. Someone who understands me.

Then he bought Primo not one but two beers.

Saturday, June 2, 2018

The Candidate's Wife: This? This is why I hate politicians and reject all their empty promises

T - ten days: Local Politician tells Primo not only will she support him, she will help collect signatures and will bring ten clipboards to the signature-gathering event

T - seven days: We have to cancel the Sunday signature-gathering event because of weather and reschedule it for today (today = T)

T - two days: Primo confirms with Local Politician that she will bring clipboards today

T - one day: Primo asks Local Politician (who lives 30 minutes from our house) if he should just come by her house to pick up clipboards so he can have everything ready this morning. LP tells him she's not home but NOT TO WORRY SHE WILL BRING THE CLIPBOARDS

T - one hour: LP tells Primo she can't come so sorry


Thursday, May 31, 2018

The Candidate's Wife: Maybe just a right-wingtip conspiracy?

Primo: I feel like there are all these people against me. I never expected to have to fight my own side.

Me: It is awful. I feel terrible for you.

Primo: And the----

(phone rings)

Twenty minutes later

Primo: That was my friend who is helping [Guy in next district over who hasn't called Primo back]!

Me: And?

Primo: [Guy in next district over] is trying to download the nomination petitions and is having trouble. My friend has asked if I would help. Maybe [Guy in next district over] isn't against me?

Me: He probably wouldn't ask for help if he were.

Primo: No! Maybe this conspiracy feels a lot bigger than it really is.

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

The Candidate's Wife: The vast right-wing conspiracy

Primo: Why didn't these people just come talk to me before deciding to run someone against me? Why didn't they even ask where I stood?

Me: Maybe because you have made your views clear and they know you can't be bought.

Primo: And I called [Guy in next district who has just announced] to congratulate him and tell him he has my full support. I left him a voicemail but he hasn't called me back. Is he against me, too?

Me: Well, he is a federal prosecutor. But I worked with him for a few years on that board and I am pretty sure he is aligned with you on the development issues. He is as anti-gross development as you and I are.

Primo: But he won't call me back. And his friend - who I thought was a friend of mine - won't call me back.

Me: This feels like second grade, doesn't it?

Primo: Yes. I don't like it.

Tuesday, May 29, 2018

The Candidate's Wife: Not Running Again (NRA) throws salt at Primo

Primo: My primary challenger put up her facebook page. Not Running Again (NRA) invited me to like it.

Me: NRA is a huge jerk.

Monday, May 28, 2018

The Candidate's Wife: Nobody expects the Spanish Inquisition

It's 8:56 p.m. The signature-gathering event is tomorrow.

People are coming over at 11:30 to pick up nominating petitions and walk lists. A walk list is a list of names and addresses sorted by whatever criteria. Usually, if you are campaigning, you don't bother talking to someone who never votes. You don't bother with someone who is solidly on the other side. You want to spend as little time as possible per voter to get the vote. If there were unlimited time, I suppose you could try to convince the non-voters that this time, they should vote, but your time is probably better spent talking to ten other people who do vote.

[And this is why I was not outraged when Mitt Romney said something about not bothering to try to reach the 47%. He said, "There are 47 percent of the people who will vote for the president no matter what." What followed that was not so good, but honestly, that's the fact of campaigning - you are usually not going to convince the other side to vote for you. So you try to turn out the base and, if possible, get the people in the middle.]

Primo has not printed the petitions or the walk lists.

Primo has discovered he is almost out of toner.

Office Max is closed.

I. Am. Dying.

Unforced error, I call it.

So I am stress eating.

And I have been stress baking all day.

I swear this campaign is going to kill me.

Sunday, May 27, 2018

The Candidate's Wife: And now? I bake

We are having a nominating petition signatures gathering party at our house in two days.

I told Primo I would make snacks.

Here's what I'm making:

David Lebovitz's dark chocolate sea salt brownies (once you try these, you will never go back)

Lemon-Almond Butter Cake

Chocolate, Coffee, and Cardamom Cake (from Honey & Co cookbook)

Memphis Junior League onion dip

The Candidate's Wife: Primo descends into despair. Then he talks to his campaign manager, who is worth the money just for talking Primo off the ledge. Then he believes me that he actually has a message.

Primo: I never thought I would have to run against someone from my own party.

Primo: I don't even know how to run against someone I agree with!

Primo: Stop! I have to figure this out! I have to do a complete reset! This is a completely new problem! I am an engineer! I have to think in sequence!

Primo: Screw this. I don't need this. I don't HAVE to run. I don't want to deal with a primary.


Long conversation with Campaign Manager, who has, since our Big Conversation About The Value He Is Bringing, has earned my undying gratitude by being the person Primo calls when he is stressed out.


Primo: CM thinks this is not a problem.

Primo: CM thinks a primary will bring me more attention.

Primo: CM thinks I can win a primary.

Primo: But I'm still not sure what my message is. She and I agree on the issues!

Me: But - you are the one who has been in the trenches since 2010. You are the one who has been fighting, by campaigning for other candidates and by speaking at hearings at the capitol and by supporting all the things you believe, for the people of this state. I am sure your opponent is a lovely pers---

Primo: She IS a nice person! She even said she had wanted to run last fall but didn't want to take this away from me.

Me: Then -- why is she?

Primo: She and City Council Not Running Again (NRA) agreed a few months ago that one of them would run. His whole thing about not running again for city council so he could spend more time with his family was bullshit.

Me: Ha!

Primo: He would be easier to run against. Nobody who has ever met him seems to like him. [Friend who lives in our neighborhood and who works in the capitol] said if NRA won this race, he could condescend to 50,000 people instead of just the people in our neighborhood.

Me: And that was unprompted?

Primo: Yes!

Me: Anyhow - your message is - and you don't have to badmouth Same-Party Opponent - is that you have been in the trenches. You were fighting even when there wasn't a chance for someone in Your Party to win this district. You have been here for the duration. You're committed. You have been fighting and will continue to fight. You didn't just show up when the odds actually got good.

Primo: Only I can't say it like that, of course.

Me: No. No need to say anything negative. But you just have to tell the truth. If this were just about positions, then robots could run. But it's more than that. This is about who you are and what you have done. You can win this.

The Candidate's Wife: Primo finally talks to the woman who called him yesterday

Primo: She wants to run.

Me:Against you.

Primo: She says we share a lot of the same values.

Me: So ----- she wants to run against you? Even though she agrees with you?

Primo: I don't get it.

The Candidate's Wife: This is what it's like wondering if someone is going to challenge your husband in a primary

Imagine having a really upset stomach.

Imagine wanting to throw up.

Imagine not being able to throw up.

Or not knowing how long it will be before you stop feeling like you are going to throw up.

Imagine thinking about all those times your husband ran when the district really wasn't winnable but the party wanted someone on the ballot.

Imagine thinking about all those times your husband spent hours and hours and hours campaigning for other people.

Imagine the district might be winnable.

And now, everyone wants to run.

From your husband's own party. Against him.

That's what it's like.

Feeling sick and not knowing when or if it's going to end.

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

The Candidate's Wife: Primo is asking around about Not Running Again (NRA) and we realize (no surprise) that I am not the only woman who thinks NRA is kind of a jerk

Primo: I talked to [former superintendent of the school board].

Me: Have I met her?

[I am discovering this is a Big Problem in politics. I am The Spouse. Like it or not, Primo is judged somewhat based on what people think about me. When I am with him, I need to be ultra charming and lovely and supportive and my house needs to be clean or else I am A Bitch Who Won't Bake Cookies or Keep a Clean House.

The only thing worse than A Bitch Who Won't Bake Cookies or Keep a Clean House?

A Bitch Who Won't Bake Cookies or Keep a Clean House and Who Does Not Remember My Name.

I have a really hard time remembering the names of all the political people I meet, especially because at almost any political event I attend, I am counting the minutes until I can leave.]

Primo: I don't know. Anyhow, I asked her about Not Running Again (NRA).

Me: And?

Primo: You know that little art festival in September?

Me: Yes.

Primo: She was volunteering at the ticket table and NRA walked up. He said, "I'm Not."

Me: That's all?

Primo: Yes. Just his first name. As if she should know who he is.

Me: Would she even have known him if he had given his full name?

Primo: I doubt it. She doesn't live in his district and the festival is in another district.

Me: What a jerk.

Primo: He was really annoyed that she didn't know who he is.

Me: He is a city councilman. In a small city. Even the people in his district don't know who he is!

Monday, May 21, 2018

The Candidate's Wife: Primo goes on the offensive but I am not a Good Supportive Candidate's Wife so sue me

Primo: I called Not Running Again (NRA) to talk to him about his possibly running, but he didn't answer. 

Me: I know.

Primo: So I talked to people about it last night at the Party Prom. They suggested I have a neighborhood blitz next week to collect nominating signatures.

Me: OK.

Primo: You're not going to like this.

Me: What?

Primo: I'm going to have people come here.

Me: What?!

Primo: I am going to have them come here to get the clipboards and the sheets.

Me: Oh. Lord.

Primo: And then I thought I might grill some hot dogs.

Me: Which means you will need plates and condiments and people will be in the house. 

Primo: Not necessarily! Hot dogs are finger food!

Me: Not. Really.

Primo: They are!

Me: I am not going to be a part of this.

Primo: But---!

Me: Do what you want. But I will not be visible. I am not a part of this. This is not how I want to spend my Sunday afternoon and I don't want to play hostess. I don't care if you do this, but I am not a part of it.

Friday, May 18, 2018

The Candidate's Wife: Primo talks to Campaign Manager and some other people about a possible primary challenge and is not as despondent as he was

Me: I'm sorry this is so stressful.

Primo: I feel better now. I talked to Campaign Manager and to [someone else with influence whose role I cannot remember]. They reminded me that the County Mayor* might not be so eager to fund a campaign against me - I already have endorsements from nine pretty prominent, powerful legislators.

Me: That's true!

Primo: And several unions.

Me: exACTLY!

Primo: He's not going to go against that. And Not Running Again (NRA) - he can primary me if he wants, but he is not going to get party support because I already have it. Plus he is not known outside of his district.

Me: AND he's a jerk!

Primo: I feel better.

Me: BAM!

Primo: I have to get to that dinner** early so I can ask [other prominent union leaders, politicians, and people of influence] for their endorsements.

Me: You have A PLAN!!!

Primo: Yes. Normally, you wait until after the filing deadline**** to ask for endorsements, but CM suggested I ask for them now.

Me: Great idea!

Primo: If NRA wants to run, go ahead. But it won't change my strategy. It might mean I campaign harder a little earlier----

Me: But it won't be wasted effort.

Primo: Nope.

Me: Knock 'em dead.

* The County Mayor has funded several campaigns against incumbents he doesn't like. He is trying to get a lot of power, which I totally get - that is how humans can be sometimes, but I don't agree with how he wants to use his power. He wants to develop EVERYTHING. Also - he is a rich kid who has never had to work for his own money. He had thousands of dollars in parking tickets a few years ago - all from the same location - because it was worth $36 a shot to park where he wanted to park. He's That Guy.

** I call it the "X Party Prom." Because it is. It's a prom for grownups.

*** No, I am not going. Why do you ask? Why on earth would I torture myself by spending a Saturday evening hanging out with politicians? Please.

**** The deadline for turning in the nominating petitions. For Primo's race, the deadline is early June, so he is asking (April, May) over two months ahead of time.

The Candidate's Wife: Primo and I reminisce about what a jerk Not Running Again is

Primo: Remember when NRA emailed that woman who wrote to him about the development and said, "I appreciate how much courage it must have taken for you to cut and paste from a form letter?"

Thursday, May 17, 2018

The Candidate's Wife: Primo is despondent because there is gossip that Party Insiders want to primary him but he doesn't know who or what

But he does think he knows why. I have made some reference, I believe, to the development issues facing our city. We live in an older neighborhood - a first-ring suburb of houses built around the wars close to downtown. Our city has great public schools, really nice houses, and great services. It's a nice place to live.

The developers want to put high-density housing in the middle of neighborhoods of single-family homes. They want to build five-story buildings next to single-family homes.

I am not hearing any support for from people who actually live near the proposed development. Primo and I did not support the building of a 66-unit apartment building on the church parking lot two blocks from our house. We do not support development on the grounds of some really nice parkland in our city.

But there are people who want this development to happen. The people who would make money from it, of course. People who are much richer than we are and live in much fancier neighborhoods where this sort of thing would never be allowed to happen.

He has been told - but nobody will give him actual names - that the Establishment wants to run someone against him.

Primo: They aren't even doing me the courtesy of letting me know! That's how it's supposed to work.

Me: It's kind of as if during WWII, after we had started fighting the Germans, the Russians, and the Japanese, Illinois had also decided to fight against us.

Primo: This is not how it's done!

Me: It must feel like you have been betrayed.

Primo: I'm the one who ran in this district when nobody thought it was winnable. I have run three times! I'm the one who has put in the work. I'm the one with the name recognition. They should be supporting me, not fighting me.

Me: Except - they know you are not a Big Money Guy. That you're not a sellout. That you would not support big development deals.

Primo: I wouldn't!

Me: I didn't think your party was officially about Big Money and Developers.

Primo: They're not supposed to be!

Me: So as long as they say the right things about the social issues, it's OK for them to screw the little people over on anything to do with money?

Primo: Maybe.

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

The Candidate's Wife: Primo gets a cryptic message from the city council candidate who ran against the woman who won

Remember how Not Running Again City Councilman (NRA) tried to intimidate a candidate for his seat into not running?

Primo stepped into that fray and supported the woman who was running. He also had a beer with the other candidate, whom we shall call Candidate B.

I met Candidate B. Nice guy. Nothing wrong with him. But Woman Candidate was very clear and strong in her message of Let's Stop This Crazy Re-Zoning Required Development.

After Woman Candidate won, Primo sent a message to Candidate B, saying he ran a good race and Primo's support of Woman Candidate was not personal against Candidate B. He suggested Candidate B and he get together for another beer.

Candidate B did not answer the beer question, but wrote back that Primo had not "seen the last of [Candidate B]."

Which Primo takes to suggest that Candidate B might primary Primo for the State House.

To which I said, "But he couldn't even win the City Council seat!"

To which Primo answered, "But he would get the developer money behind him for this race."

We both sighed.

Developers. Big Money. Must money always win in politics?

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

The Candidate's Wife: I am surprised into having a frank discussion with Primo's campaign manager so I try to channel my management hero, Alison Greene of Ask A Manager, a blog you should be reading every day

I have not been happy with Primo's campaign manager. I thought that by January, we should have a complete campaign strategy and a week by week plan for doors, media, mailing, events, whatever.

We do not have that.

I suggested to Primo that if the campaign manager was not going to do manage the campaign, perhaps Primo should fire him.

Primo was reluctant to do so - Campaign Manager (CM) is our friend.



I told Primo really specific things CM should be doing and suggested he and CM talk about them.

Here's the deal - Primo is not a planner. He gets things done, but by staying up all night to meet his deadlines.

CM is also like that.

Primo needs someone like me running his campaign.

Only I do not want to do that job.

I got home from work and CM was in our kitchen!


Primo: CM is here. I've been telling him the things you have been saying. He knows everything.

Me [Oh man.]

Primo: I think it would be useful for you to explain what you mean to him because you are much better at organizing than I am.

Me [SERIOUSLY!? You are dumping this on me?]

CM: I really want to hear what you have to say, Goldie. It's OK.

Me [IHateToGiveNegativeFeedbackIHateToGiveNegativeFeedbackIHateToGiveNegativeFeedbackWhatWouldAlisonDo?WhatWouldAlisonDo?WhatWouldAlisonDo?]

I take a deep breath and think about What Alison Would Do.

Clear, direct, objective statements.

Me: CM. I want to see a written campaign strategy.

Me: CM and Primo. I want you guys to meet at least once a week. I suggest you meet every Friday.

Me: CM. You need to be sending us a statement of account every month.

Me: CM. I love you. You're a friend. We want you to succeed as a campaign manager. But - you have to bring more value to us than we are paying. You need to find donors and you need to find voters we would not otherwise reach.

Me: CM. You guys have to finish that highway construction ad you were filming.

Me: I really don't want to be involved in this! I do not want to manage a campaign!