Thursday, April 30, 2009

Email from C

Yesterday was one of those days when I wanted to chuck my BlackBerry into the toilet. And then hold it under water to make sure it was truly dead. It was relentless, with its buzzing and chirping, as I ran from meeting to committee to briefing to my office to where ever the heck. Just when I would start to concentrate on something -- anything -- I'd hear the BlackBerry's familiar, cheerful little *chirp* and think, more or less, "&^$#%$#."

But I don't just use it for work -- my personal email goes to the BlackBerry, too. One small thing that helps on the crazy days is to occasionally get email I actually want :). Late yesterday, the BlackBerry made one of its quiet little chirps. Given the day I was in the middle of, my first thought was not terribly godly, but with a sigh, I scanned its screen. And almost burst into tears.

The email was from C, a young woman I love so much. We'd been in each other lives for more than four years -- and then, we just weren't. Between life changes and I'm not sure what else, we hadn't spoken in months, after at least weekly contact for years. I'd been mourning her, her absence, us, for so long, but didn't know how to get back to her.

And then, there she was -- just like herself, funny and open and kind. And I was pecking back to her as fast as my thumbs could manage on a tiny keyboard from the middle of a committee room, hoping that she could feel my love and joy despite the many typos and weird characters I punched in through tears. I wanted to hug the stranger I was sitting next to, I was so happy.

So much for drowning the BlackBerry.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

A day in the life of a legislative staffer

Scene: The office is just crazed -- phones ringing, fax machine screaming, staff literally running to where ever. And I'm clearly on the phone -- like, talking, and with my desk covered in papers and binders, and writing and answering email all the while. There is no way I look like someone who is available to talk.

In the middle of all this crazy, a lobbyist walks into my office, sits down across from me, and just starts talking.

Nora: Um, Lobbyist, I'm on the phone here.

Lobbyist: Yes, but I just need a minute.

Nora: OK, but I am on the phone. Already talking to someone.

Lobbyist: Just one minute.

Nora: Do I not appear to be on the phone? Because I am on the phone.

Lobbyist: It'll only take a second.

Et cetera. He only left when I literally turned my back to him.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

My precious

I got a Kindle, y'all.

I'd been wanting one since they first came out. I read a lot, probably four books a month anyway given all the rotating and cycling through them I do, and even though I generally buy them at a deep discount on eBay or through Amazon's used book sellers, they add up in terms of cost and ... well, piles of books.

But the capital outlay involved with the Kindle initially held me back, along with the fact that I'm generally leery of first generation technologies.

The Kindle 2 released shortly before I finished my taxes and got a hefty refund. Given the money burning a hole in my pocket, my love of gadgets and the number of books I burn through, it was a pretty easy decision.

The new Kindle is has a better screen and more memory than its predecessor.

It's also thinner -- thinner than a pencil! -- and can download a full book in about a minute.

There are lots of classic books available for free download, which is cool. I got Dracula and Frankenstein for free, for example. And the ESV was free, too -- woo! You can also download free samples of books, a sort of try-before-you-buy scenario. Best sellers run $9.99 with older books selling for cheaper.

I am very, very happy. Yay.

Friday, April 24, 2009

A day in the life of a legislative staffer

So I was sitting at my desk, reading about federal Recovery Act monies that California is slated to receive (welcome to my world) and minding my own business, when I sensed a sort of presence in the vicinity of my office doorway.

I looked up -- and there were like six or seven school children standing there. Not speaking. Just watching me read.

I have no idea who they were, how they got in or how long they'd been there.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009


I know I'm not writing.

By the time I hit the weekend, I thought my brain might just plumb fall out. I'd managed to put one foot in front of the other last week, get my bills out of committee, show up at work every day reasonably appropriately dressed, and not have my new boss thrown out of the Legislature for my antics. Victory!

But I spent this weekend like it was like the old days in Approps -- stunned, trying to get laundry done and errands run, all in a fog. Not just tired, though there was that, but out of it. Sunday at some point it occurred to me, "Oh. I have to go back to the Capitol this week. Because I work there now."

When I went back, I knew there'd be an adjustment. But I thought it would be in terms of work -- remembering the patterns of staffing bills, reconnecting with old colleagues, that sort of thing. I'd forgotten how the busy times (which we're in right now) can sort of eat you up in a way, and since I'm out of practice, that's all the more true.

It's all OK, good even -- just a recalibration. Once this week is over, things should even out a touch.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Not playing

I've seen and done a lot of things in 12 years in the building. I've briefed members while so sick to my stomach that I had a garbage can next to me. I've been part of conversations with members of the Legislature about pantyhose sizing -- more than once. I listened to a member's spouse wax philosophic about which ethnic groups were the least and most attractive.

I've never actually shed blood in the line of duty, though. Until yesterday.

The scenario:

Assembly Ed Committee yesterday afternoon. The committee room was packed, with lobbyists and staff waiting their turns lining the walls. I was one of these folks, hugging a wall and juggling three bill binders, a committee binder, three folders for my boss to use in presenting his bills, a BlackBerry, a notepad and a pen. Oh -- and I was wearing 3.5" heels. Cute, but teetery.

When a bill author ends his or her presentation on one bill and begins another, there's a flurry of activity -- seats empty as witnesses, the general public, members and staff following various items on the agenda clear out, and new folks fill their seats.

It was in a moment of jostling between bill presentations that Exhibit A happened. A small woman (her size belied her toughness) was exiting one of the rows of seats as I stood on the wall, waiting to take a seat. As she turned the corner to leave, she flat checked me. Sort of put her shoulder down and leaned into it, too. And I, not expecting it, took it hard. I was spun around nearly 180 degrees and hit the wall I'd been leaning against moments before, banging my hand pretty hard in the process.

It doesn't look too bad in the picture, but it bled pretty well for about five minutes. Five minutes during which I tried to hide the bleeding from my new boss while also trying not to get anything on my suit or prepared committee statement.

Good times.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009


  • I may actually have work email and computer drive access today, a mere three days into the new job. Which will mean I no longer need to sign in as an intern to work. So much for the fancy new job :)
  • Three bills up today in committee. Two of which are being amended. Yikes.
  • These are three of the nine bills I am staffing. Another yikes.
  • I was worried that Lynne would have to start coming across the street every morning to make me coffee as she did so kindly when I was at CM, but the office has a Keurig! Good news for both of us.
  • I have a pretty wicked case of insomnia. I don't think it's the new job, but all the change maybe? Or there are certainly personal things that are pressing down on me. If anyone has any advice to help me sleep (and Sharon, the glass of wine isn't working :/), I'd appreciate it. I'm starting to look and feel a bit like a zombie.
  • Session tomorrow at 8:30. Which means I need to be there at 7:30 to get floor materials ready for the boss. Welcome to the Assembly.
  • I have these moments throughout the day when I am sort of jolted by the fact that last week, I was in full-time vocational ministry and this week, I am back in the Legislature. Some of it's been like riding a bike, but there are many obvious, stark differences.
  • I wonder if I'll get to a point where I don't need to call or email CM at least once a day to say hello and check in.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

The squirrel has landed

Yesterday was a whirlwind.

Despite not having a working phone for more than half the day and no email or printing abilities, Sweepa and I got reasonably settled in to the new job yesterday.

I have nine bills, three of which are set for hearing on Wednesday (!). Two of which are being amended. Ha.

Between calls to committee consultants (once my phone worked) and trying to find where the three-hole punch and office supplies were, I managed to unpack Sweepa.

This yielded the following conversation, or a derivative thereof, at least three times:
Someone: Nora, can you... Uh, there's a squirrel over there.
Nora: Yep.
Someone: Wow.
Nora: (maintains expectant look on face while waiting for Someone to resume questioning)
Someone: ...
Someone: Anyway, Nora, can you...
Good times.

Here's my office. Sean came a'visiting yesterday and pointed out it needs some stuff on the walls. I'll need to work on that. Maybe once I can print and therefore complete committee statements, I'll move on to decor.

They even got me a wee little nameplate for my door! In case I forget where I live. Which, based on yesterday, might happen.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Coveting your prayers

Today I make my triumphant (ha!) return to the Capitol, with my first day of work in the Assembly.

I am excited and terrified at the same time. Which is probably just about right.

If you pray, I'd appreciate your keeping me in your prayers today. If you don't, hold a good thought for me, please.

Holy cats. I work in the Assembly.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Resurrection Sunday

"He is not here, for he has risen, as he said. Come, see the place where he lay."
-- Matthew 28:6

Saturday, April 11, 2009

I love Dilbert

This is, to me, hilarious.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Song of the day

It's all about the iPod these days, and the running play lists.

As I seek out music that turns off my brain and keeps my feet moving in a forwardly direction even when they really don't want to, I've been revisiting old favorites. The one I played over and over again -- in the car, at the gym, even at home -- is an oldie but a goodie: "Sabotage" by the Beastie Boys.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Throne of lies

Given the confusion about my recent FB status update, I decided to post this. Perhaps the funniest scene from the hilarious movie Elf.

Last night

What could make Opening Day better? OK, yes, tickets immediately behind home plate at Minute Maid Field coupled with hot dogs, an open stadium roof and, oh yeah, pitching from Oswalt that featured both heat and accurate placement. Another thing was getting together with friends for pigs in blankets, pulled pork sandwiches, root beer floats and, when the game's done, some Wii.

Here I am with Baby Selah. We were watching the game and I was instructing her on the finer points of late-inning relief pitching and clutch hitting. She was a rapt student. Largely because I fed her pieces of biscuit the whole time.

Once the game ended, the Wii came out. Oh yes.

There was ski jumping, there was hula hooping, there was... I don't even know what all. Oh, yeah, this is my pastor. With Sean helping with some body English.

And here are Christina and David's little boys, sitting still (rare occurrence!) for some ice cream. How cute are they?!

Monday, April 6, 2009

Big news

I am returning to political life under the Capitol dome.

Friday is my last day at the ministry and, beginning Monday, I’ll be working as Assembly Member Tony Mendoza’s legislative director.

I’ve not reached this decision easily. In the process of arriving at it, I’ve been the grateful recipient of many prayers, lots of good counsel and plenty of smacks to the head. Apparently I have a few boundaries left, because I am not comfortable discussing all the reasons for this decision, but there are many.

I love Capitol Ministries. I love its mission. I love those it sends out. I love my dear brothers and sister in Christ with whom I had the privilege of toiling for nine months.

Please keep me in your prayers as I return to the building that was my professional home for 12 years and I endeavor, as Sean prayed for me last week, to be a light in a dark place.

It's Opening Day, y'all!

Oh my gosh, it's my absolute favorite day of the year.

I know there were games last night, but come on. That's not the real start of the season. It's today, when 11 games are played and the season for the whole of the league begins in earnest.

From now through fall, CNN broadcasts are largely bumped from my TV to be replaced by whatever game happens to be on. It's the sound of summer to me, the vague background murmuring of a game being called while I putter through chores or poke around on the Internet, interrupted by the crack of a bat or the roar of the crowd -- either of which will cause me to scramble to the TV, hit "rewind" on the DVR, and relive the excitement.

I just love baseball. I miss it all winter. And now it's back.

Sunday, April 5, 2009


I got to spend my afternoon break between morning and evening church services with the Wallentines. This was a good thing in many ways, not the least of which being my first taste of Wii with Joshua and Caleb and time with sweet Ezra who was super cuddly and adorable after his nap.

He didn't want his picture taken, but I managed to sneak this one once he was absorbed in his Leapster. Which he patiently showed me how to work and let me color on.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Developments on Wisteria Lane

I'm new getting new neighbors, y'all.

The Crying, Swearing Neighbor Lady moved out in early September, and her house has stood empty ever since. There was a for-sale sign on it for a while, but I don't think it sold (no, I haven't stalked the house on Metrolist). Last week there was a flurry of activity over there -- a truck pulling a small U-Haul trailer pulled up in front, blinds open and lights ablaze, and then, the final, clear indicator: painting going on inside.

I don't know if the people are renters or new owners. What I do know is that they began some sort of construction/hammering business at 7 AM today. Yay! Welcome to the neighborhood! And that whatever they're pounding on, they hammer in multiples of eight. So all morning, it's been rapid-fire blam-blam-blam-blam-blam-blam-blam-blam, pause, blam-blam-blam-blam-blam-blam-blam-blam, etc. I keep finding myself counting each series of hammerings, and they've been remarkably consistent.

So! A new poll! Since everyone who lives on my street is weird (and ultimately annoying) in some way (except me, of course), I'm putting a poll over on the right side for us to guess what the heck it is they're doing over there and/or how it is that they will ultimately distinguish themselves, weirdness-wise. This weirdness is likely to be the source of their pseudonym for future blogging, so it's important we get it right.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Song of the day

I love Led Zeppelin. They are probably my favorite band, and no matter my mood, my situation, or the state of my achy head, they seem to have a song that just fits.

As I've been developing running play lists for myself, I'm listening to them more and more again of late. It's a little like coming home, or reconnecting with a once-best friend whom you lost touch with and from the first email or phone call, you're right back together on the same page.

Their music just all sounds so good to me, but this song, "Kashmir," is I think my favorite. Jimmy Page and Robert Plant redid it for their 1994 album No Quarter, and I really like that version, but this one is rockier, raw-er -- classic Zeppelin.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Need help with headphones

Can anyone recommend some headphones for my iPod that won't jiggle out of my ears as I run on the treadmill?

I currently have ones like these -- in-ear head phones with little silicone sleeves -- which sound great when I'm not moving too much but they fall out of my ears when I run. I bought some add-on over-the-ear sleeve thingies to use with them, but they totally don't work -- not sure if the headphones aren't meant to be used with them or what, but they barely stay on my ears in the first place and the headphones sort of wriggle out anyway as I exercise.

It's making me a little crazy, the Headphone Situation. The treadmill experience is made so much better with eardrum-thumping music, and last night I was finally just over the whole fiddling-and-still-falling-out stuff and ripped them out altogether and ran -- in silence. Which was not great.

Help? Specific brands, models and links all appreciated.