Sigh. What a wonderful ceremony, start to finish. I'm excited, because I'm having one of those "my next post is spilling out faster than my fingers can type it" times. And it's kind of fitting - my inaugural post for 2013 will be about the Inaugural. It was amaaazing. And the speech was monumental - this will take some thought. I'm feeling so patriotic right now. Happy New Year!
Just another quick update. Still immersed in family and holiday stuff, still doing a little professional housekeeping, still looking forward to a headlong dive into the book come January. My fantasy is to take off for Topsail for a week and get some big chunks done, but we'll see. Looking at a beat-up cottage that rents in February for a pittance. (Source of pittance yet to be determined.)
And still mostly somehow holding true to my vow to stay out of current events, no matter how tempting it is to weigh in. I do post about politics here and there on my facebook wall and get into delicious dialogues in a great lefty discussion group I'm in, so that keeps me satisfied FOR NOW!!
Starting to collect bits and pieces of online discussion and links that keep popping up lately on class and race issues pertinent to what I want to write about it. It's like when you start driving a different car and suddenly you see that car everywhere, especially when you're trying to find yours in a crowded parking lot...
Meanwhile, see my homepage for a few news items and links to some of my old posts that I hope have stood the test of a year in the archives.
Yours truly, Julie
I miss my website. The campaign season was invigorating, and I learned lots about writing - about pushing to get blog posts done quickly while retaining accuracy and, I hope, halfway decent structure and flow. I was excited to see my readership grow. It's humbling to have hundreds of clicks on certain posts.
I don't want to lose momentum or disappoint anyone taking a look to see what's new.
At the same time, it was a relief to have the election over, and I've ended up needing a longer debriefing period than I expected. My office remains piled with stuff. My bedroom is disheveled, and my inbox is a nightmare.
Thanksgiving came and went, tons of family and fun, and now I can't figure out how to regroup and get organized with more holidays coming up so closely.
In terms of politics, I'm trying to take a zen approach. I have the same sort of emotional/intellectual reaction to current politics, including the disgraceful treatment of Susan Rice by a few knuckleheads with too much sway; and the fascinating, tortured contortions of Republicans in Congress, trying to figure out how to reconcile Grover, the election mandate, and the ever looming mid-term elections.
My approach involves simply observing my reactions, "Oh, hmmm, that really pisses me off. Interesting. I see that my gut is telling me to delve at length into these issues, but my head is telling me to chillax and trust all the good, smart people, including dozens of high-profile bloggers, to keep a sane point of view articulated into the public discourse.
See? I need to spend this time relearning how to use short, declarative sentences, don't I? Ha! I think I will take Strunk and White to bed with me each night for awhile.
My intention is to begin work on my book in earnest after the first of the year, no later than January. I will post twice in December about the book, once with an overview of the subject matter (related to class and race in the US), and again with more about its philosophy.
By the end of the week I will have up my "What I've Learned" kinda thing I'm writing in honor of my 50th birthday.
It's November. It's finally November. It is noon as I write this; 12 pm, Thursday, November 1, 2012. This time next week, the reality that the election is over will really be sinking in. After taking a few days off, I am going to clear my office of campaign materials, file away notes on voter access issues, take speeches and debate quotes off my bulletin board, clear my head, and set my sights back on writing my long-neglected book.
And I decided this morning that I have said everything I need to say about who should be in the White House. As of today, I'm resting my case.
I have no idea if I convinced one single soul that they should vote to reelect President Barack Obama. I tried, but either way it's okay, because what I did do was participate. I got to express myself, and feel like an active part of the democratic process. And now... Now I'm going to indulge what has become a growing urge, creeping up on me the last few days, causing some confusion and anxiety, and finally this morning, some clarity. I'm going to shift my focus completely away from analyzing the race, lobbying for my candidate, and articulating every last thought in my head about the issues facing our country. I'm shifting my focus to being, if not simply a spectator, no longer a reporter.
A witness, maybe. A participant. Just one voter.
I think this election cycle has been harder on Americans than any of us anticipated. The campaign itself - at least the processing that's been done about it on TV, in social media, and among family and friends, has changed relationships, even changed lives. I'm not sure I agree with the popular consensus that we're farther apart, though. It might be instead that we just know each other a little better. We all got pretty frank about our opinions, didn't we? But they were there all along, and now they're out.
And as often as each side bemoaned the fact that we were hung up on distractions and needed to be having a real argument about real issues, some of that actually happened. I doubt if either side would be thrilled with the way the other described their party's ideals, but at least the question of the role of government in our economic system has been hashed out more thoroughly than ever, and people's real values around social issues have been more honestly articulated than ever before. I can't imagine that coming to some joyous agreement on everything should even be our goal. The country can benefit from some yin and yang, surely. We do still need to learn how to challenge each other more respectfully, but maybe laying our cards out the way we have this year is somehow a step towards that, rather than an exercise in making it worse.
And as much as we rail about each other's inability to base convictions on sound information, I think maybe we've all gotten a little bit smarter. We may have over-relied as a body politic on blogs and Wikipedia to support our arguments against each other, but there's no question that most of us know more than we used to about filibusters, fracking, the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Middle East politics, and the US tax code.
In fact I think we should give ourselves a collective pat on the back. I have had many hundreds of political discussions in the past year. For all the hyperbole and stubbornness and meanness, I have also seen countless examples of humility, intellectual curiosity, and decorum. And this has occurred among people who are heart-wrenchingly passionate about their views.
I wonder sometimes about all the credit we give to those who are more detached from the process. Of course people are free to be less interested in politics than some of us, but I'm not sure that should translate the way it does into an assumption that those folks possess a capacity for objectivity that we lack. The Undecided Voter is courted and interviewed and catered to through the final debate and beyond. But doesn't their decision-making process eventually seem puzzling? At what point in this process were you still unable to tell the difference between Barack Obama and Mitt Romney? At a week before the election, what additional information does one hope to obtain that would finally illuminate The Truth about these two candidates?
I am so happy to be signing off as a campaigner today. I am relieved to relinquish the self-appointed role of persuader. I've had no illusions that something I write could directly influence someone's vote, but my drive to always be convincing and motivating is so strong that it is freeing to release it for awhile.
I was surprised to find, upon looking back, that I published the first post in my series on this election on 12/07/11, almost a year ago. I think I have had a chance to say my piece.
So I'm kicking back now!! I'll be watching these last few days play out as a highly interested observer.
Good job, everybody.
May the best one win.
We had a beautiful trip to DC. Brett is so warm and so funny and so smart. Kelsey and I had awesome Mommy/Daughter time. William and Brett got lots of good talking in about all kinds of things. The two of them were fabulous hosts. Fun visits with friends, moving and stimulating sites to see downtown, one helluva good dinner at Founding Farmers, near the White House, and some great down time at their apartment. Thoroughly great weekend.
I'm excited about the week ahead. My writing has been full speed ahead for a couple of weeks now. I'm doing lots of work on Voter Id and other election law issues, but have also written some pieces in direct response to specific political events. This week I will finish an article on the NC State Board of Elections - I snagged a great interview again - this time with one of our elections officials who I had seen appear on Rachel Maddow! I just had to call her and introduce myself and congratulate her on her appearance - as I told her she was very clear and effective, and communicated a lot of energy,and a focus on fair elections. Maybe I can find a clip and add it here.
In any case, we ended up talking at length about the voter roll challenges that have occured here - I have my notes but with the trip out of town, haven;t written it up yet. Seems fun if I could just get organized and get started!! I'm up late so I'll sleep 8 hours and then coffee, news, hop up and run to the bank, pharmacy, and quick stop at the grocery, then back here to tidy up my office, then I am settling to finish it. My find of day!!! I will grab something easy that the guys can throw together and just work and work until it's time for football at 8!
I've been thing more and more about how drastically I want to shift gears after the election. Many many thoughts about it.... Take a few days off, finish my "What I've learned"-type piece, maybe take Rufus and run down to Topsail for a few days to clear my head and think. I think I will write a whole separate post with an outline of what I want the time between say, November 6th, before which I will do analysis of where we stand post-election with a 2nd Obama term. From 11/6 - 12/22 or 23rd I want to do a lot of planning and goal setting - a little retreat for myself. Then I usually take a few days off for the holidays - maybe hit Topsail again, then I can't wait to plunge back in hard and heavy in January.
I know what my new writing focus is, and I can't wait. And I'll start putting the book in my sites. I'm going to be absolutely ruthless about guarding my time - man, I have never felt so little interest in/need for a social life, plans, etc. I'm not in danger of getting isolated because of close family and a couple of close friends. And I want to stay balanced with lots of walking as usual, taking snapshots every where I go, cooking, TV nights with William, some craft stuff... But those things are only going to be here and there because mostly I crave to write write write.
I've never felt better about where my life is and where it's going.
Hmmm, did I really need to just go back and reread all the posts on this page??? I was messing around with my tag categories and decided to review.
I have to assume that it is human nature to cycle through the same questions and problems over time, feel like you have it figured out, then occasionally realize you are at square one.
And maybe square one isn't right. I've been doing journal entries on this page - since I created it in June - about focus and productivity, that all sort of sound the same. But I the same time, I do see progress.
I do have my new computer, and that has made a world of difference. I have rounded out the "feel" of my office - still loving my curtains to candles of course; just "refilled" my incense at World Market; rearranged my desk, created a better filing system, and bought some more handy supplies. (Yikes, I just realized every time I go to Staples and putting money in Mitt Romney's pocket! lol) So now when I wake up I can't wait to "get to work".
And I do think my output is better. Still have an uncompleted VIVA page on "hide"... But I'm getting better at coming in here and cranking stuff out.
All I can do is keep plugging away. Reviewing old posts is painful but instructive. The one year anniversary of Maslow's Peak is October 3rd, and I have a lot to be proud of, I think.
On we go!
Didn't unveil VIVA yet, but I can't complain: I got pulled away by two great decisions that came down yesterday from federal courts re: voting laws in Texas and Florida. Posted last night about Texas last night, will hit Florida's today, and try to get to SC, although it is still in court, undecided as of yet, so I may wait.
I am beside myself with excitement because I'm getting my new computer today. Here's what I've been using:
As soon as I get my new one set up, I'm sending this one to the Smithsonian.
Working on the PA Voter ID thing is making me sick. It is truly going to be HARD TO VOTE for hundreds of thousands of registered voters there this year. It's a travesty, and I get enraged, anxious, and disgusted. I am in awe of people like Ellen Kaplan and all the rest who manage to stay positive and just get the job done although I'm sure they feel the same way.
VIVA will come out today if it KILLS ME!!!! woo hoo!
AMAZING interview today with Ellen Kaplan of the Committee Of 70 in Philadelphia. Her organization has take the lead on creating and managing (and funding!) the Pennsylvania Voter ID Coalition, working to prepare voters for election day.
Ellen was SO generous with her time - we talked for about 1 hr 45 minutes. She gave me tons of detail - it's really disturbing how the law - bad on its face - is being implemented. The state dept of PA is either inept, ill-motivated, or both.
I don't know how those people do this work without losing their minds, but I gather that there is a lot of camaraderie and enthusiasm shared amongst the ground teams, so I guess that makes it possible.
So much to do to get my VIVA page ready - feel bad every day that goes by because of raised expectations on the part of a number of family members, plus of course I want to help get the word out.
But better to have it like I want it before I publish. So stay tuned...
I'm longing for the open vista of the beach, and for the way being there will create one in my head. Clean, bright, calm, uncluttered. Space to breathe and relax, time to let thoughts flow unhampered. Ahhhhhh...
Leaving for a week at Topsail in 4 days.
William and I had a great, very helpful discussion the other day. He helped me talk through these problems I'm having with focus and approach to work and all that. What he heard was a lot of confusion about priorities in my topics of interest, and in the way I want to structure my days. Sort of obvious, I guess, but it was so helpful to hear him reflect back what he was hearing.
It's hard to capture all that, so I'll jump to the bottom line. I know without question, if I had to choose one central theme to focus on, it would be race and class. I am invigorated and driven to write about other topics as well, of course: foreign policy, Presidential campaign politics, LGBT issues, campaign finance, local politics, and many more. And the whole question of civil discourse is fascinating to me, and I feel I have something to contribute to a dialogue on that, and on all the bedrock liberal issues I named.
But I am driving myself crazy trying to keep up with the news - and my personality being what it is, and my avocation being what it is, it's hard for me to turn away from current events altogether, and hard for me to get riled up about an issue without wanting to spin out a post, or an email, or facebook blog, or to have a big discussion about it over wine or beers.
So I need to let go - I need to see events come and go, trust all the smart people who are writing about these things, talk amongst my family and friends about them if I want, but not feel I have to take on each one, research it, and write something cogent. This energy I have, this drive to address issues and communicate about them, it's a good thing. William definitely has to push himself to see that me watching cable news is not a bad thing. Oh, my gosh, that's such a funny dynamic to think about - who can blame him for saying, Julie, just change the channel. But when I say this he does appreciate what I'm saying: that burning reaction, that outrage, that argumentation, it's who I am, it's what gets me up in the morning and makes me feel invigorated, and, it's a good thing as long as I can channel it.
I feel like my writing ability still has a long way to go, and even if I narrow my focus, there is still so much to be learned and said. There is still going to be the challenge of learning to balance the long term, thoroughly researched major work I hope to do about race and class in America against the the topical, immediate issues that come up on the same subject. I want to blog on those issues to keep my skills sharp, to improve my writing, to keep abreast of what's happening, to eventually develop a name for myself in the field, and to always learn, learn, learn - to deepen my understanding.
The most concise example of this juxtaposition I can think of is about voting rights. I can't ignore the Voter ID movement happening right now, state by state. I want to stay current on the status of these laws, and on the arguments for and against them. But I am also deeply connected, intellectually and emotionally, to the historical context of this issues. From Reconstruction and Jim Crow, to various suffrage movements, to the mid-20th century fight for voting rights, to the present day, I am drawn to research and read about the development of the inner-city classes and how that concept pertains to access to the ballot, and then try to use my skills (obviously not evident in this free-flowing post) to translate that and make it accessible to people who don't normally think about it. It is so hard for some people to understand why you can't just say, okay, starting now, everybody has to have a government-issued photo ID by election day.
Ach, I'm wearing myself out even right now. Writing sentences that should have been separated into three. Hey, I didn't say I was there yet with the focus and the discipline and the structure. But that's my little task for vacation, and I relish it. As is my wont several times a year, I am filled with the excited feeling of, hey, when I get back from the beach - LOOK OUT WORLD!!!
"note to self"
Personal thoughts on my professional process.
- Julie Boler