The Poky Little Pundit


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Vote on August 6th!

Me and George

George and me about to canvass the neighborhood. (This is an excellent example of my husband’s photography skills. Luckily, he is good at many other things).

Though I have just one month remaining of novel-writing time before teaching swoops down and renders my other life pursuits obsolete, I wanted to dash off a quick post urging everyone to vote. The primaries are on August 6 – which means you need to get your ballot in the mail like NOW.

As the new resident PCO, or Precinct Committee Officer, for section 1761 of the 36th District, I have been spending time this past week knocking on neighbors’ doors and handing them pamphlets prepared by the 36th District Democrats with candidate endorsements. I brought George on my first foray as my little blonde talisman – nothing like a cute four-year-old to provide a distraction from the awkwardness of knocking on a stranger’s door. Sure enough, people were eager to open the door and chat. It is a pretty easy message to sell – here’s some information, and please vote. Even this sales-wary neophyte can handle that.

I also wanted to mention an excellent new economic agenda driven by Nancy Pelosi and fellow House Democrats. It was brought to my attention by an old student currently working in Washington, D.C. It is called “When Women Succeed, America Succeeds: An Economic Agenda for Women and Families.” Susan Stamberg discussed the agenda with Nancy Pelosi just a few days ago on NPR, and it is well worth a listen. Considering the House is currently Republican, critics assume it doesn’t stand a snowball’s chance in hell – ironic, no? Isn’t the GOP all about ‘family values?’ These are still things my peon brain has yet to grasp in the world of politics.

That’s all for today – this PCO stuff is rather time consuming, and I have more door knocking (and novel-writing) to get done. Feel free to write in and post absurd quotations from the Voter’s Pamphlet. My favorites this time round include a typo in the ‘occupation’ line (he’s an accountantt, apparently), a guy who thinks ‘life is just too short’ so Seattle should be more fun, and a guy whose favorite job is raising his son to be a ‘mighty man of God.’ Love it.

Now go vote!

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Laboring for some kind of fruit

my bean plant

My own garden! This is my first ever attempt to grow beans from seeds. Crossed fingers (or vines).

The past few weeks, I have been saying, to anyone willing to listen, that the next purchase I make will be a condo with no garden. It is absurd, I know, to complain about owning a home. Talk about first world problems. But having a garden is just totally, thoroughly exhausting. And like many exhausting things, also frustratingly worthwhile. Because after a day spent literally digging in the dirt, progress is visible. You have created and sustained life.

I feel the same way, to an extent, about trying to get involved in politics. There is no end to unfamiliar terms, to limits on time and resources, to the careful tending of raw material to yield a tiny bit of beauty or sustenance. And like gardening, there is such a host of people who know so much more than you that it is easy to just think, ‘I give up! Give me some cement and a cocktail!’ A large part of me also laughs at myself for the suburban middle-class-ness of both pursuits.

But I continue to hunger for that one, delicious plant that pops out of the dark earth, fecund with life. I’ve planted a few more this week: I applied to be a PCO for the 36th District Democrats. A PCO, or Precinct Committee Officer, is a person who knocks on doors in the leadup to elections and provides materials on endorsed candidates. Sounds like a great idea.

I also met up with Kirkland City Council member Shelley Kloba, who recently entered the political arena after many years of experience in the PTA. She was not only generous with her time but also with her ideas about how I can use my unique talents to become a part of the change-making institutions in our state. She defines herself as a child advocate and was down to earth, warm and obviously dedicated to serving her community – what a role model!

Finally, I am applying to be a member of the board of New Beginnings, an amazing Seattle organization committed to ending domestic violence. I can’t think of a better way to spend an evening than helping women and children in need.

But back to that garden: I have found, as many gardeners have before me, that one can spend an inordinate amount of money on stuff that you stick in dirt. Especially if you are impatient, or lazy, or an unfortunate combination of the two. I was hoping that, by merely expressing an interest in politics and scattering seeds, things would come my way. But no. I have to pick out the right seeds. I have to check the light and have good-quality soil. I have to water them. I have to weed things out. I have to water them again.

Right now, I’m just sowing seeds. And as everyone knows who has grown something from seed, it takes time and it’s kinda boring to watch. So I am taking time this summer to allow my tiny political plants to grow without witness. And, well, I also have a novel that needs finished by September 3 (both my birthday and the first day of school), and blogging is a fantastic way to procrastinate.

So until then, unless something momentous occurs, I am signing off. May all of you pursue goals this summer that will bear fruit!

Love, The Poky Little Pundit


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Teach me how to track a bill!

Last week, I received an email from someone in ‘The District’ informing school personnel that ‘they’ are reviewing our Internet usage, compiling the data into reports, and sending it to our principals broken down by department and individual. Apparently, the district is exceeding bandwidth because people are using Google and Pandora too often.

This amused me so much that I forwarded the email to a few friends. And because I didn’t even know we could access Pandora, I immediately logged on. What is it about this nanny mentality that provokes an absurd kind of rebellion in people? Rather than talking to the few individuals who are perhaps spending too much time listening to music (gasp!), we receive a thinly veiled threat: We will hunt you down, music lovers! How dare you play music for those miserable youngsters? 

Despite this and other sundry shit teachers must endure, I have decided to stick with teaching. I know, I know. What can I say? Quitting teaching is like abandoning an ugly, annoying child. I know I shouldn’t love it, but I just do. I wish I didn’t. I wish I wanted to spend all day in an office, making boatloads of cash while sipping lattes and googling ex-boyfriends. But no. I am willingly going back to a badly paid job with no chance of better pay where I cannot find the time to pee and where I am told I must not listen to music. And people wonder why teachers are so weird. 

Make no mistake, fans: This does not mean that I am abandoning my attempt to enter politics, though I feel obliged to state yet again how disappointingly unglamorous Olympia was. Legislators have just about the hardest, most boring, most underpaid job ever – and this is coming from a teacher.

I made time in my schedule last week, during my visit to Olympia, to meet WA state Senator Jeanne Kohl-Welles – a woman who has made enormous progress on many issues dear to my heart, including human trafficking. Unfortunately it was right when I was scheduled to testify, which is how I found myself running up and down the stairs to her office every five minutes to see if I could re-schedule. At 3:15, our allotted time, she wasn’t there. At 3:30, she wasn’t there. At 3:40, I may have fallen down the stairs a wee bit. At 3:45, I talked to her (secretary? page? assistant?) and finally settled down to wait for her. 

Me and Jeanne Kohl-Welles. Not the best photo ever - can't get the assistants these days.

Me and Jeanne Kohl-Welles. Not the best photo ever – can’t get the assistants these days.

At 4:00, I was rewarded with a brief but interesting conversation with Ms. Kohl-Welles. She explained that she had been up since 4:30 am and would be working until 9 that night. I, for one, am truly grateful that good people such as she (correct grammar?) are working hard for us. She gave me many suggestions of organizations to investigate and perhaps join, such as the National Organization of Women, the Center for Women and Democracy, and Win With Women (not sure if there is a more up to date link – this one is specific for 2012). For people who live in my area, the 36th District Democrats provide an immediate link to the legislature. 

But let’s get back to HB 5292. Since attending the hearing, I am fully invested in tracking the bill’s progress through – well, whatever our system is. I REALLY want to know whether or not it passes, so how on earth do I find out about Senate Bill 5292 or House Bill 1457 (its companion bill)? I mean, I’m pretty smart and generally good at research, even if I did go to college in the age of microfiche. If anyone has any reliable sites I could go to or ways I could find out online, please, please share. It seems rather pathetic that someone who truly wants to find out what is happening in our government cannot do so easily. Shouldn’t it be as simple as Googling?

Of course, I will have to wait until I get home to do that, because teachers aren’t allowed to Google. Obvs.