Tuesday, July 26, 2005

sacramento days, part 3... 

Check out Part 1 and Part 2, if you haven't already.

Friday, June 17. Another early-ish morning, but not too early. As I did the previous morning, I tried to ignore the fact that a fella I find incredibly attractive was sleeping in the room next to mine. I especially tried to forget how cute he looked the previous morning before showering, with his usually nicely coiffed hair slightly messy. Instead I just showered and dressed and put on my make-up. As I started packing up my stuff, my hair still clipped away from my face and up in a barrette from putting on my make-up, our host entered the room (I had left the door open), asking for a reprieve from me, as Mimi and MusicianMan were trying to recruit him for expert testimony for the ES&S machines that would be covered that day. I threw up my hands, telling him that he was appealing to the wrong gal if he could be useful to us. On that note MusicianMan and Mimi - both fully dressed and ready to go - breezed in with a good morning, gathering around Mr. Host at the computer. Still a bit on the sleepy side, I smiled back a good morning, then realized my hair still looked all freaky and turned away to surreptitiously remove all the clips and finger-fluff my hair. Thank heavens I was having a good hair week.

I turned back towards the energetic folks in the corner and MusicianMan stepped over to me with another good morning, asking me if I were still asleep, a sweet smile on his face as if he were looking at the Cutest. Thing. Ever. Yeah, my heart melted a wee bit. Damn him and his mischievous brown eyes.

(Yeah, I'm writing about MusicianMan a lot, but don't worry, I'm not gonna go all CuteNerdBoy again with him on the blog - I mean, how many times can y'all read about the same friggin' thing? Sure, he's a nummy treat, but who's got the energy to go through all that again with someone unattainable? Not me, that's for sure. It's just that he's sorta become my political activism mentor. Not that he set out to be that. I kinda adopted him for that role because he's the type of person that doesn't stick to the tried and true methods of the Democratic Party. Which I consider to be a good thing because Lord knows the tired and true methods have done Jack and Shit for lefties specifically and America in general. The fact that my chosen mentor happens to bear some resemblance to David Duchovny certainly doesn't hurt in the eye candy department.)

Anywho, it was soon determined that Mr. Host wouldn't be needed to provide expert testimony, so soon enough we were all packed and saying our goodbyes again with promises to meet up the next time our hosts were in the L.A. area and off Mimi and MusicianMan and I were to Sacramento to meet up with the CEPN folks that had been able to stay for a second day. The group had decreased by about half, but we were still pretty voluble in the cafeteria. As we broke up to travel to the first floor hearing room, MusicianMan took me aside and asked if I might want to speak to the panel regarding the ES&S machines, specifically the ES&S AutoMARK machines. I knew that, since we had lost so many people (and the number of people testifying in general would be less than half of the day before, since most people had counted on only one day for the hearing and so had to go back to their lives), the more people that could be heard supporting the ES&S AutoMARK, the more the panel might seriously consider it, so I said sure. After being immersed in electronic voting machine (EVM) information for a couple of days, I pretty much knew the pros and cons of the AutoMARK machines and I agreed with Mimi and several members of the group - whom had all seen the AutoMARK in action - that it would be a good compromise, as long as no other ES&S machines are used to tabulate the votes.

(I don't want to go into tons of detail here because there's just too much information to write, but suffice to say nothing electronic from ES&S should be used, as it's not high on the list of EVM good guys either - not only are they nearly as troubled as Diebold, but a high official in ES&S just happens to be the brother of the CEO of Diebold. That may mean nothing, but that doesn't mean alarms aren't a-ringing. However, there are Help America Vote Act deadlines that have to be met and, here in L.A., an election official whom smells rather fishy, so we're trying to do what we can to present viable alternatives that won't fuck up the state.)

So I signed up under the ES&S section of the agenda and quickly went over the points I needed to make with Mimi. Unfortunately I didn't realize that, because my last name begins with C and there were far fewer people there on Friday, I would be the first person to speak under public comments. That's when I realized that I'm someone who really needs preparation before I speak in front of anyone, especially a governing panel. Especially when I've never done anything like that in my life. Yeah, I was nervous. And boy, did it show. I managed to make all the needed points, but not without pauses and fillers and a shaky voice. I pretty much sucked my first time out of the gate.

More ES&S testimony from CEPN folks, including Mimi and MusicianMan, and more timing done by me. Then another agenda section was finished and finally it was time for the final bit of the agenda: Other Business. And guess who, due to her last name, got to be first again? You guessed it. This time I did much better, as I had a written speech which I had practiced several times the night before until I nearly had it memorized. I still had my notebook with me for reference, and I certainly referred to it, but I know that I have a pretty good speaking voice and I know how to convey professionalism and passion, plus I'm not too shabby at looking at all of the people I'm talking to, so I felt much better about my second turn at bat.

(Here is a little more about the second day. And if you're curious about my little speech, you can find it here. Both Mimi and MusicianMan liked it, and appreciated my delivery of it, so I'm kinda feeling my oats about the whole thing.)

The rest of the testimony flew by, with most of the remaining speakers (some CEPN affiliated, some not) pretty much supporting the stand taken by CEPN. The hearing was finished by noon. A number of us hung out in the hearing room, going over a few things, meeting with other speakers who were not initially affiliated with CEPN but were interested in the group, and talking to a couple of government officials. Again, very fascinating stuff.

About seven of the remaining CEPN people (including my little group) went off to lunch across the street from the Secretary of State Building, where I indulged in a daiquiri - a bit early for me for a drink, but I was tired and just felt like a wee bit of alcohol. And MusicianMan and I again indulged in a few lingering glances from across the long table. Soon Mimi, MusicianMan and I were off to travel the long distance home, along with another woman, VideoGal (she taped both days of the hearing), whom we had previously agreed to take back to L.A. I rode shotgun, with MusicianMan and VideoGal in the back and Mimi driving.

It was an interesting ride home. Sometimes we were exceptionally goofy (the four of us practically bought out a gas station/snack shop of all its junk food), sometimes rather serious, sometimes in heated discussion. And sometimes MusicianMan put on his headphones and lost himself in the music of his iShuffle while the ladies talked.

Mimi dropped me off first, since I was furthest east and she had to make her way west to Santa Monica to drop off VideoGal, so I was home by 9pm. Exhausted, hot, grimy and coming down from a sugar and adrenaline high, but still filled with excitement from my days up north. And realizing - fully and completely - that politics may be where I want to take my life professionally. A shocking realization, as I’ve said before, but a thrilling one. I had better start preparing for a hell of a ride...

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Carol/Female/36-40. Lives in United States/California/Los Angeles/San Fernando Valley, speaks English. Spends 40% of daytime online. Uses a Normal (56k) connection.
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