Saturday, May 29, 2010

Jay Rehearsing

Jay recently performed "Carmen" for the Grand Connecticut Opera.   It was the first time he's performed this opera live, for a paying audience.  It was a great time, and my only complaint was that his role wasn't big enough.  I'm only a fan of opera if someone I know is in it, so I fell asleep in some parts.  Brutal to admit, I know.

Here's a short video of Jay rehearsing for an audition next week - the audition is with Delaware Opera.  

Where has the time gone?

Lots has happened in the last month or so, and I'll get caught up soon.  For now, here's an interesting email exchange from a recent post I made on Fiverr.

H! (sorry I couldn’t find your firstname)
I need a quick video testimonial, just a few sentences,
for a new ebook called “xxxxxxxxxx”. (for senders privacy, i'm deleting name of book)
This is aFUNebook. (seriously! you’ll see in just a moment!)
Below is a quick summary of what’s in the ebook.
I’ll email you the actual ebookPDFwhen you start this project.
This is anEASYproject, plus you’re going to get
a great ebook (reg. $27) out of the deal !!!
You don’t have to show me proof that you’ve really done
the steps in the ebook… I"ll take your word for it ; – )
Please look over the info below and confirm
(a) when you can do this, and
(b) the type of location you might use.
© if you will do this outdoors, wearing the same clothing
and with the same background as in your profile photo,
then I’ll give you an extra Fiver. So you’ll get 2 fiverrs.
(plus, I’ll be able to give you 2 separate reviews—and having
several reviews can really help to get your future orders going!)

 And my  reply:

Hi, thank you for the email. I’m afraid that this is outside the spirit of my gig. My intention is to create product reviews of things that I actually use, and endorse (or use, and don’t endorse) such as a kitchen appliance, an electronic device, etc.. I am happy to read the book, but I have no intention of doing any kind of financial transaction in order to qualify to record and pass on a testimonial.

I understand what you are trying to achieve, and I wish you the best of luck, but I am not going to promote something that I have not vetted, and I am not in a position to deposit any of my funds into an account in order to grow those accounts as suggested by your email.

I bet you can find great people to do this on Craigslist. Good luck to you.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Door To Door Campaigning

I love being part of the election process, even though I can't myself vote.   I met someone else that couldn't vote yesterday - a felon!  It was weird how up front he was about it, just mentioned it matter of fact when asked why he'd say he couldn't vote - "I'm a convicted felon."  Oh.   I always expect convicted felons to have tears tattooed under their eyes.  That would be so convenient.   He didn't have any visible tattoos, but he looked fairly tough.  He also lives with his mom, and gave her a kiss as soon as he walked in the door, so he can't be all that bad.   I'm sure he's learned some crafts in the big house, I bet that he can make a candy dish out of an old license plate.  I should have suggested that he start a blog too, and I'd link to him from my blogroll.

Arrived at Union City First headquarters around 5pm, and it was packed.  People kept arriving until past 6pm.   Mayor Stack gave a rousing intro yesterday, then again handed it off to Chris Irizarry to translate.   We always laugh when that happens.  Mayor Stack will talk for ten minutes, then look at Chris as if to say "get all that?"  He always does though, and even thought I don't understand Spanish perfectly, I sense that he rarely misses any points.  Maybe he's installed a voice recorder app in his head, and he just presses play when it's needed.

I was out with Carolina yesterday, and we were able to get 7 posters up.  Since we're going to be starting a big poster push on Monday, I thought I'd start the documentation process.  I want to be ready to claim the title of "most posters plastered" or something.  

I also put the same poster up in my own window. I figure since I can't vote, I may as well shout out.

On a slightly separate note, I feel like I'm getting to know some of the people around here, and I actually see some familiar faces when I walk around the city.  I saw a few campaign volunteers at the Job Fair the other day, and saw a few others at mass last Sunday.    My new friend Oscar has been a big help in the "who's who" - he's lived in Union City all his life, and knows everyone.  I'm constantly asking him who people are and what their story is.   In fact, he's the one that clued me into the background on these two huge hulking guys that I thought had to be police detectives.  They stand up super straight, I thought that must have been a habit from years of wearing guns on holsters.   They are not police detectives.  I'm going to call one a baker, and the other a tailor. Just for fun. 

Monday, March 22, 2010

Learning Something New Every Day

Hey y'all! Just got back from Union City First, and I can't wait to start campaigning.

Today we learned how to do door-to-door campaigning, and I again am impressed with Chris Irizarry. He's a great public speaker and knows how to make an information session fun and interesting. I felt bad making him repeat some of the volunteers questions in English even though I completely understood the Spanish answers, but I think it's important for everyone to hear both replies. Obviously the demographics here indicate a heavily Latino population, but I find most people have a pretty good grasp of the English language (even if they think differently) and I think it's important for them to hear the same vocabulary in both languages. You never know what little bit they are storing away that might be useful down the road. Chris Irizarry is an asset to Mayor Brian Stack. I haven't had too much exposure to the other Commissioners, although they all seem completely dedicated and beyond competent.

I was sitting with my new friend Oscar, the fellow I met at the Campaign kick-off. Hopefully we'll get to work a neighborhood together. I'm not at all afraid of doors being closed in my face, or people being rude. From what I've experienced so far, there is tremendous support for Mayor Stack and the Board of Commissioners, so I'm sure any instances of negativity will be few and far between. Maybe I'll get to meet the guy who thinks Mayor Stack tore down his billboards. That will be fun, I'll ask him if I can take a picture with him and post it here.

The only slight concern that I have is that I am totally new to an American election process of any kind, so I hope I don't get out of my depth. Hopefully nobody will quiz me on any unfamiliar points, but if they do, I'll just have to defer to someone with more info.

I quite like the irony of campaigning for an election that I can't participate in - but hey, I pay taxes just like the next guy (reminds me that I have only a few days left to appeal my property taxes) and while I don't have as much say as a bona-fide citizen, I still have some say.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Weekend Edition New York Times

My Saturday morning routine:

  • Get up, brush teeth and wash face and put on ratty bathrobe
  • Go downstairs and make big pot of coffee
  • Get NY Times Saturday edition from stoop
  • Pour a cup of joe and sit down at kitchen island with paper.
Read paper in following order -
  • Remove Automobiles, Sports and Classified - straight into recycling bin.
  • Read through entire Real Estate section and wonder weekly why I haven't contacted Vivienne Tam about *our* own interesting real estate story.
  • Then move on to Arts & Leisure. Read interesting articles and ignore stories about topics of no interest to me, such as the future of modern dance. See what movies are taking out the very expensive full page ads. Wonder at whether content drives ads (see "How To Train A Dragon") or placement of ads drives content.
  • Take out flyers, coupon books and Times Magazine from Book Review section. Go to junk drawer and get out chicken cutting scissors for coupon clipping. Look for coupons under $1 so I can use them on coupon doubling days. Read through Times Magazine and attempt crossword puzzle.
  • Now I'm warmed up and limber and can attack the more serious sections, so I'll move to Business section, then Arts and finally the first section.
  • Leave papers laying scattered on kitchen island for a few hours in hopes of finishing off scanned articles, and taking another stab at crossword.
     Around 2pm, get tired of seeing papers lying around and take entire paper and throw into recycling bin. This week, however, I may actually use the paper to make seedling containers.

    Friday, March 19, 2010

    Mayor Brian Stack Officially Announces

    What a blast yesterday! I went to Schuetzen Hall for the official announcement yesterday, and had a great time. I had a feeling it would be more party than meeting, so I arrived a bit early. The parking lot was already packed and almost every table was full. The hall was set up like a banquet with flower arrangements on the tables, tons of balloons and a cash bar at the back. Each table had a tray of sandwiches and a tray of finger foods. There was also a band playing, and they were really good. I'm going to have to find out who they were.

    I wandered around looking for familiar faces, but didn't see many - it was actually a bit dark, and too crowded to do much walking around, so I made my way to a table of nice old ladies and asked if I could join them. They had all come in from North Bergen, and all of them knew Mayor Stack from when he was a kid.

    After sitting and getting my bearings and meeting my tablemates, I walked around again to take some photos. Of course, battery failure right then so I only took a few shots, none of them great. While I was walking around, I saw a woman standing around the bar looking lost, so I went up and introduced myself. Turns out she was feeling a bit lost, not having anticipated a party, expecting more of a town-hall meeting. She stood out a bit in the mostly Latino crowd, being quite tall, thin and very blond. She came over and joined us at our table and we had a chance to chat. The funny coincidence is that I had noticed her on the street a week before. I was standing at the bus stop and saw her taking her kids to the car, and said to my husband - look! Another Manhattanite has just moved in. I was wrong, she's from Hoboken, but close enough.

    We were also joined at our table by a nice man. I didn't catch his name, but I think I've seen him at Union City First. He's a radiologist, and he works in Hoboken. He's also involved with St. Augestine's Church in Union City.

    By this time, the band was done and the procession music started. A bit corny, but fun. They played the theme from Rocky, and everyone stood up and starting cheering. A bit of a let down when nothing further happened, but the crowd didn't care. Every stayed on their feet for the next song - We Will Rock You by Queen. At this point, the mayor and his entourage started making their way in, but it was slow progress. I wonder if he felt like Lady Gaga? He couldn't walk with the cameras in his face and everyone reaching out to him. More cheering and thunderous applause as Mayor Stack and the Board of Commissioners made their way down the carpet. The balloons didn't quite release, and the carpet was a bit too crowded to let everyone get through well, but small details slightly grating to my production background.

    The panel of dignitaries was introduced and I can't remember everyone. I know that the Hoboken Mayor was there, the North Bergen Mayor, Police Chief Everett, the first Latino state Senator, and a bunch more. Everyone had very good things to say about Mayor Brian Stack. After the dignitaries came the Commissioners and I saw not just a rising star, but someone who will be a force. Chris Irizarry is headed for big things. That guy is such a great public speaker and so charismatic. He is also funny, especially when he's speaking in Spanish rather than English. From what my tablemates told me (the North Bergen ladies posse) he comes from humble beginnings, and has been mentored by Mayor Brian Stack. Good for him, I'm excited to follow his political career.

    Mayor Brian Stack finally took the stage, and I thought the roof might come off the hall. The only reason that it didn't is that his mic gave out a few minutes in, and there was a delay while a working mic was found. Again, the kind of detail that would make me crazy. I would have tested and prepped a round of backups. Mayor Stack spoke very well, and had the crowd totally behind me.

    By this time, I was starting to get a bit claustrophobic and hot, so I invited my new friend Rachel to stop by for a drink on our way home. She only lives two blocks away, so we made our way out of the hall and back to real life.

    I'm really proud to live in Union City, and I'm really proud of Mayor Brian Stack and the commissioners. They work very hard, and you can't deny their enthusiasm for the tough job at hand. I'm already anticipating crap posts from the Hasta La Vista blog. I wish I could meet that dude and say - if you have a problem with Mayor Stack, give him a call and talk it out. I'll even dial the number for you! No city is perfect, and politics is a messy business. But I say you either put up by running yourself, or jump in and try and make differences where you can.

    But then, as the theme of this blog says - I'm a Canuck living in the US. Canadians have a different sensibility when it comes to opposition. We oppose, but we don't have the mindset of smear. We have the mindset of 'if you think you can do it better, have at 'er!'

    Saturday, March 13, 2010

    Rainy, Windy Saturday

    It's an awful day today. Heavy rains, crazy winds and chilly.

    Earlier this week was much better, so I'm going to focus on the beautiful days we had this week.

    I did some clean up in the yard and was happy to see new growth. Here's the aster bush with new buds on it:
    And a picture of new growth on the chives:

    And finally, a daffodil shoot trying to come up through the dirt:

    You can see how badly we need to fertilize and mulch....

    Thursday, March 11, 2010

    Today is Thursday

    And it will be Thursday all day, no matter what those Friday lovers and Wednesday hopefuls want.

    Yesterday was a GREAT campaigning day. I'm much better at waiting patiently for assignments now that I'm bringing my knitting along. I was knitting while standing on Tuesday, and yesterday I was early enough to find a seat, so I knit for half hour while everything was getting underway.

    I was assigned to a team with someone I've seen at headquarters a few times, but never spoken to. His name is Fritz, and he's been in Union City, NJ since 9/11. He may very well be the first person I've met that was directly and immediately effected by the tragedy. Fritz is a Haitian guy, as I learned later that evening, and he speaks French, Spanish and English. Three languages close to my heart.

    We were assigned 22nd St, between New York and Bergernline. I love when I'm working in a familiar neighborhood. We had success on our very first door, and our streak held around the whole block. We made a very good team, and met some really great people. I think I've admitted this before - I'm nosy. I love having a chance to peek into people's lives, and I love getting a glimpse into their world from a half open door. I'm so interested in everything from the curtains on the windows to the size of their TV, the smells coming from their kitchen, the babies running around and screaming, etc. Almost every single person we came across last night was nice, and there was again, great support for Mayor Brian Stack and the board of commissioners.

    We went into one building that looked pretty small, but had 6 mailboxes in the front hallway. The building didn't look any bigger than my house, so I wondered if it was much bigger inside than it appeared from outside. Nope. And there wasn't six units in the building, there was eight! Each apartment was tiny. Tiny like NYC "studio" tiny where the bathtub is in the kitchen. Only in this case, there was no bathtub in the kitchen because there was no bathtub. Each unit (we saw three) was no bigger than 400 sq feet. One poor couple, both quite elderly, had their bed pushed up against one wall, two kitchen chairs in the hallway, a small couch opposite the chairs, and a micro kitchen table and tiny stools in the kitchen. I couldn't figure out what was so odd about the kitchen until I realized that there was no real fridge, just a tiny countertop one, and no stove, only a hotplate and a microwave. The couple seemed happy enough, and were so gracious with their hospitality, that maybe it was just the right size for them. Another gentleman asked us in, and he most definitely was not happy with the space. This gentleman was dapper with a capital D. He had on sharply creased pants, a perfectly matched shirt, was well groomed and wearing very polished shoes. I could see that he took a great deal of pride in his appearance and in his home - very well organized and put together, but TINY! He had himself put in a full size fridge, which meant that he had to squeeze into the kitchen sideways. I wonder how he even opened the fridge door.

    He asked if we knew of any place to find better senior living conditions, so I told him to call the Mayor for help. Going back to the nosy part? I asked him how much he paid in rent. He is paying $750 per month for this third floor tiny walkup. I haven't done a ton of research into rental units in Union City, but I'm pretty sure he can get a lot more space for that money....

    Anyhoo, that was Fedex at the door delivering my new closet organizing unit, so it's time to get hustlin'.

    Tuesday, March 9, 2010

    Union City, NJ Mayoral Re-election

    So last night was the first night in a while on the re-election campaign. We're working on Petition for Nominations, as well as some voter registration.

    I arrived at Union City First just before 5pm. Since I hadn't been there in a while, I wanted to have a minute to catch up on what's been happening, and to make sure that they still needed help. We're less than 50 days from election! The show got started a bit late, so I was getting a bit cranky in a super crowded room. As I've mentioned before, no matter how early I get there, I always seem to be shoved to the very back. Maybe it's my Canadian modesty, but I just can't bear to do the same pushing and shoving to the front as others do. Between the crowds, the constant ringing of cellphones, the cellophane wrappers as people snacked, and the endless chatter, I was ready to leave. I'm about to sound like an old grouch, but here goes. I totally get that people are enthusiastic. I am very happy that Mayor Stack has such staunch supporters. I'm sure that he, and the Board of Commissioners are thrilled with volunteer turnout. But I think they'll need to invest in a megaphone so that people at the back of the room can hear. I also think they'll need to invest in a sign, or run something like a movie trailer that goes "please silence your pagers, cellphones, pocket games, etc. Please also help us get through all of the instructions easily by not chatting to your neighbor, not making dinner plans on the phone, not sifting through your handbag looking for a candy, not crumpling papers, and not interrupting. There will be a question and answer period at the end."

    I finally couldn't take it anymore and waited outside until the room cleared a little. I'm confident enough that whatever paperwork was required wouldn't prove too challenging, and since I was ready to wring some necks (Lady with the red hair talking on phone, I mean you), I thought I'd calm down a little. Standing outside was the best thing as I was spotted by Alicia who was putting together groups of the more experienced volunteers. She quickly assigned me to a team, and off we went.

    I was put with a nice couple - or at least I think they were a couple. My guess is that the woman (I can't believe I don't remember her name) is a teacher. She had a teacher-like handbag and three pens that worked. Her partner/husband/friend was Juan, and he drove. Nice ride btw, a 2010 Lincoln SUV. You'd think the economy wasn't in the toilet. I was supremely comfortable. We were assigned a block pretty close to home, so I was familiar with the landscape.

    We didn't have too much luck. We couldn't get anyone to let us in at a few buildings. Nobody even answered the doorbell, even after a few aggressive buzz-buzzes. We had more luck at the next building. A woman in one apartment looked pretty identical to my friend Liz Eustace. She was busy trying to keep her two dogs from escaping, but she was super nice, and signed our petition. We didn't have any more luck in that building - either not home, or not citizens.

    At the next building we encountered Grouchy McGrouch. After a few buzzes on the bells, he came out and stood at the door, but didn't open it. He said "you can't come in". We identified ourselves and asked him if he could tell us which apartment the super was in. He told us that he's not allowed to open the door, and we had better leave or else he'd call the super. Yes! call the super, that's exactly what we want! But he just scowled and walked away. Oh well, we'll try another day.

    We found another really nice person. A little old lady, probably 90, and as spry as I am at half her age (just freaked myself out to be reminded how close I am to 90). She insisted that she would only sign if we could guarantee that it was a petition for Brian Stack and his commissioners. She absolutely would not sign for any other candidates. How's that for support?

    The block wasn't very high density, so we made pretty quick time. We went back to the campaign office, and Juan and Ms. X drove me home, which was a treat. I'm totally buying a Lincoln SUV when I have too much money. Until then, it's foot power.

    Sunday, March 7, 2010

    Spring Is In The Air

    I can't believe it's been so long since my last confession. Where has the time gone? I've been very busy with out of town stuff and haven't been around. Union City, I'm back!

    I'm excited to know how Mayor Stack's campaigning is going. I haven't been to Union City First in a month, but will be back on Monday. I've had a few messages from campaign headquarters, and two from Brian Stack. I'm impressed with the diligence and follow up of volunteers.

    Spring is finally in the air, despite a back yard full of snow. I see some new buds on the aster bush, and some new growth on my plant out front. I'm feeling a bit motivated for a fresh start today, and will start with mass at St. Joseph and Michael parish. Jay and I went for a walk down Central Ave yesterday, and did a bit of church shopping along the way. We used to go to St. Nicholas in Jersey City, but we haven't found a regular church in UC yet. Ok, so the reality is that we haven't really looked - we attended mass at Holy Family a few times, but for some reason, I didn't love it. Maybe the lack of singing? United churches have the choirs down pat, but my Catholic family seems to pay less attention to the music which is the part I really love.

    In any case, we poked our heads into St. Joseph and Michael at 13th and Central, and it's such a beautiful church . A grotto! A baptismal font sunken into the floor! There was a nice old guy waiting for confession, and he told me a bit about the church. It used to be German, as is evidenced by the stained glass and interior. Of course now it's predominently Spanish, but we'll stick with the English mass. I may join the league of Maria. It would be fun to be in a group of all Maria's, no? Joke. My mother would have been horrified at the ripped lace in a tablecloth. If it's a good fit and we start going regularly, I'll have to offer to mend that, it would drive me nuts to look at that every time I went to church. It would be like a loose tooth that you can't stop poking with your tongue.

    We also took a quick look at St. Anthony's which is a bit further south. Also a gorgeous church and also looks like it has a German (more Bavarian) interior. Less vaulted ceilings and more beamy. I think St. Anthony's is where our neighbor Agathe goes. Maybe we'll run into her on the walk down.

    We saw another interesting church, but I'm not sure it's operational. Our Lady of Lourdes, a Syrian church. I'll have to investigate a bit more and see if it's still open. If it is, they could use some help with yard tending.

    Saturday, January 30, 2010

    Not so great neighbors


    There are a lot of dogs in our neighborhood. You know what's coming next, don't you? With dogs comes dog owners who are less than responsible. The issue of dog shit on the sidewalks is one that plagues us wherever we live. It was a problem when we lived in Jersey Heights, a problem when we lived on Harrison Ave, a big problem when we lived in Harlem, and starting to be a pretty aggravating problem in Union City.

    I'm not afraid to call out dog owners who don't pick up, but I chose carefully. If it's a kid or a lady, or an old guy - I'll usually just call out "do you need a bag?" which usually shames them into picking up. If it's the more common type - the huge tattooed dude with a massive pitbull, I usually say nothing. Our neighborhood has a fair share of the latter variety, and my husband got into it with one of them yesterday... I heard some yelling outside and went to look, and he was yelling at a guy across the street. Of course, when my husband asked if he was going to pick up after his dog, the guy said mind your own business. Jay wouldn't let it go, and kept asking if he was going to pick up. Of course, the guy countered with 'you pick it up' and 'why don't you call the police - you know what happens to snitches, right?' Ugh. I went to the door to call Jay in - he was by then in a rage and needed to be snapped out of his head. So like the fishwife I hoped never to be, I was yelling at him to get inside the house before it escalated to a physical altercation.

    So now we're screwed, unless we want to live even more in fear. While I'm proud of my husband for standing up to this guy, I'm scared that this guy will take it further. Of course I don't want to call the police, as I'm sure that there will be retaliation. Now, if anyone else calls the police, he'll assume it's us. I feel like a total chicken being scared of this guy, but we've dealt with neighborhood bullies before, and it's no fun. I just want to live peacefully and not have tension around our home.

    I was half expecting to open the door to a big pile of dog crap on our steps this morning, but no. Maybe I'm just too paranoid and the guy was embarressed and will simply do nothing more than walk his dog somewhere else where nobody will say anything.

    Friday, January 29, 2010

    Great Neighbors

    Voter registration for the upcoming Mayoral race continues....

    I was assigned to 24th St on Tuesday night, which is pretty sweet - only one block away from me. I've only met one person on this block so I was looking forward to see who lives behind us. I was out with Mili, a totally fun and energetic lady. We partnered with another team and they were assigned to 25th. The plan, as usual, was to meet back at the car in 45 minutes.

    The first building we hit was right on the corner. It proved to be a bit more massive than we expected, so our entire 45 minutes was eaten up just in one location. Really nice building - well maintained and clean. We started on sixth floor and worked our way through the eight apartments and then continued down the floors. Some people are so great - they invite you in, clear chairs so that you can sit and offer you tea. In the few cases where this happened, it turned out that after going through the spiel, they either were already registered to vote, or weren't citizens.

    It's interesting being able to sneak a peek into people's homes, and also to get a sense of how they live. People answer the door in everything from business suits (maybe just got home) to nothing more than a pair of boxers. I always wonder if we're waking people up from their naps.

    We finally finished the building, and ran back to tell our partners we needed more time. They left, and we finished off the rest of the street. Most people were already registered, and we found a lot of strong support for Mayor Stack. It was great to knock on a door of someone I know (my neighbor Agatha, who lives directly behind me). I haven't seen her the entire winter, and had assumed that she'd gone to Italy. She hasn't, has just been visiting family, had family visiting her, and was staying indoors.

    Mili and I came back to my house for a quick glass of water and washroom break, then I drove Mili back to HQ. Much to my disapointment, I'd filled out the voter registration forms in red ink (those pens they give out are so crappy), so I had to go back and get them filled out and signed in blue ink. Sigh.

    Tuesday, January 26, 2010

    A broken umbrella and cold feet

    Wow, the weather yesterday was terrible. Thankfully, the rain stopped in the afternoon, just around the time I was leaving for Mayor Stack's campaign office. Being from rainy Vancouver, I should know better, but I headed off without an umbrella. Mistake. The rain started back up as I was a few blocks away.

    The group of volunteers was a bit thinner last night, as you can imagine with the crappy weather. People were organized into groups, and we headed out to distribute pamphlets about tax preparation. I actually received the flyer in my mailbox on Saturday - it's kind of cool to know that the person who put that flyer in my own mailbox might be someone I've met at headquarters.

    I was assigned to cover 47th and 48th St with a group of men. Luckily, one of them had a van, so we got there quickly (and dryly). Bonus for me was an umbrella in the back, which the driver said I could borrow. We broke into two teams of three and covered our area pretty quickly. Our driver lived nearby, so he wasn't going back to HQ, so we headed back on our own. By then the wind had picked up again, and turned the umbrella inside out a couple of times. Thankfully only slightly broken but not completely destroyed. I'll bring the broken umbrella with me tonight in case the owner is there...if not, I guess I just adopted yet another black broken umbrella.

    Hopefully we'll do voter registration tonight. I much prefer the human interaction rather than the mailbox interaction.

    Monday, January 25, 2010

    Another week of voter registration

    We've gotten through another week of voter registration. I'm getting into the groove of it, and even busted out the courage to try some Spanish. I'm sure I'm murdering the language, but nobody seems to mind at all. It's funny - I can understand 90% of what is being said in Spanish, but replying back is a whole different ball game. The phrases I was able to say where completely parroted from having heard them so often. It's a beginning.

    There continued to be a lot of volunteers showing up to help. By 5:30, the room is pretty packed and everyone is very eager to get going. Of course, that eagerness translates into lots of jostling and pushing into the line, so no matter what time I get there, I end up being pushed to the back. No big deal really - it just feels like a shoe sale at Macy's.

    On Friday I was paired up with a nice man who leaves near Mayor Stack. As with most of the other volunteers, he's known him for some time and has been a supporter all along. We went with another pair of volunteers down to 14th/Palisades. We split up with Jose (I think that was his name) and I doing 14th between Palisades and New York Ave, and Franklin and his partner doing 15th St. I don't go down to that section very often, and I was glad to see that it was mostly houses and only one apartment building. We'd made plans to meet back at the car in 45 minutes, so we were hoping to move as efficiently as possible. It was pretty cold out which is always a motivating factor.

    We were lucky to register a pair of voters in the first house we went to. People seem to be pleased to see us, and for the most part, a lot of the people were already registered to vote. Many others, like myself, are residents but not citizens so those were pretty quick as well.

    We were pretty close to meeting time by the time we got to the apartment building, so we kept an eye on the corner in case we had to run outside and ask Franklin for more time. What took the longest was actually getting in the building - I tried calling the Super, but he was not at home and told me to just keep buzzing. A nice lady on the ground floor let us in, and we were able to cover all three floors pretty quickly. One lady who answered her door was holding the cutest baby in the world. A little boy, probably around six months old. He was such a happy smiley baby and his mom was pretty happy too. I think we caught her in the middle of making dinner and whatever she was making smelled delicious. I was looking forward to getting home and making my own dinner.

    We finished the apartment building and went out to the corner to wait for Franklin. We ended up waiting a bit out in the freezing cold. At least I thought it was freezing cold but some kid skateboarding on the corner didn't think so, he wasn't even wearing a jacket. Ah, youth.

    I hope this week continues to go well. The weather this morning is awful. We had heavy winds last night, and lots of rain. If it continues like this all day, I'm sure the turnout tonight will be smaller. Maybe I can keep my place in line this time!

    Tuesday, January 19, 2010

    Only slightly dissapointed

    I should have started this last week, just after the first volunteer meeting for the re-election campaign...I'll have to turn back time a bit, but let me start with today.

    So it's nearing two pm, and I just got off the phone with the Mayor. I had left a message for him last night, letting him know that I was available for more volunteer work than just voter registration and leaflet distribution. I had also put together an online strategy proposal for the re-election, which I'm sure got shoved into someone's briefcase and immediately forgotten about. In my voice message last night, I asked him if he'd received the proposal, and if not, to let me know who his Chief of Staff is so that I can follow up directly.

    Now we come to the disappointed part. He says "let's just concentrate on the door to door right now". I could tell he was in the midst of a few things at once, and so I let it go, thanked him for his return phone call and hung up. Sigh. I know that there are a bunch of other jobs that I can help with, and I realize that it must be so difficult for the Mayor to reply to everyone that wants to help - but I'm feeling a bit frustrated because as much as I love my town, it's politics as usual. It's who you know, not what you can do. Of course, if the shoe was on the other foot, I'm pretty sure I'd be happy. This is simply the reality of a town where the mayor is very supported, and even volunteer work is divvied up according to relationships. So nobody (but me, and maybe my husband) gets what I can offer, and if they *do* get it, they probably can't even stop to take a breath to think about the benefits. Right now it's one step at a time, and naturally the focus is on the most immediate concern of voter registration.

    The volunteers have been out in full force all week, starting with last Wednesday for voter registration. The meeting was called for 5:30/6pm, and I was there a few minutes before 6pm. I stood in the middle of the crowd, but as soon as Izarry started speaking, the crowd surged to the front, leaving me in the dust. Of course, since I'm by myself it's much easier to get shoved to the back. Union City is friendly enough, and I love it here, but man it's hard to break in...everyone knows each other, and they seem leery of inviting a newcomer into the mix. Unlike previous towns I've lived in, this isn't a place where people extend the hand of friendship too easily. Maybe a language barrier? I think it's probably just a general attitude of "who is this newcomer", I'll say hi after seeing her around for a few years. So despite being teamed off with complete strangers, not one of them introduces themselves to me - they simply give an instruction and you are meant to follow it. I pointedly introduced myself and asked for their names, which they gave, but I was clearly operating out of the general comfort zone.

    I guess I feel a bit better getting this frustration out of my head. Understanding the situation (I do) is definitely not the same as liking the situation (I don't).