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Destinations, History, North America

Confessions of a Campaign Worker

February 24, 2016 • By

It’s an election year, it’s campaign season and I am a *political fundraiser. I’ve worked as the body person (sucker), the advance lead (warrior) and the consultant (a rare and mature combo of the aforementioned). I’ve traveled on the road, visited with voters door to door and I’ve sat at a desk dialing for dollars and begging for votes. The jobs are not glamorous but they allow me to pack my bags and discover the vast countryside. Places I never dreamed of seeing like Oshkosh, Wisconsin.

Fantasy Aisle

Fasten your seatbelts we are off to Election Night in Boston

In 2004, I signed up for an advance job with the Kerry Edwards presidential campaign. Oh I thought to myself, “I’ve made it, I get to travel with Senator John Kerry by private plane.” I was wrong. Instead of attending shindigs at Radio City Music Hall or the Staples Center in Los Angles to listen to Bon Jovi, I landed in Green Bay, Wisconsin on a Sunday during Packer season and Nashua, New Hampshire in October when the skies are gloomy, the temperatures falling and the multitude of emotions high. My room at the Holiday Inn in Nashua leaked and I quiver to this day when I remember my time spent in Nashua, which years later I fumble pronouncing. The air was cold and damp– Brrr– and locals in dive bars wore hair mullets with fierce pride.

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Advance people spend a lot of time waiting

The campaign directed me to plan rallies around the theme of the week which often focused on jobs, universal healthcare, the environment or the War in Iraq. I stayed in small towns like Brownsville, Pennsylvania where the “best restaurant in town” served up healthy iceberg lettuce salads with mounds of greasy French fries in the center of the plate.  The Hampton Inn became my hotel of choice because the chain provided free breakfast cereal in the lobby and sometimes eggs on weekends.  My mode of transportation provided by the campaign featured a minivan courtesy of Avis Rental, a company I won’t use today. I bounced from Sioux City, Iowa to Waterville, Maine where I tasted lobster for the first time and purchased clogs because it felt like the right thing to do in Maine.

Fantasy Aisle

The Election Night Party in Boston on the Kerry Edwards 2004 Presidential Campaign

It was not tough work but it was extremely stressful and demanding. Professionalism often went out the door and it became imperative to “make shit happen” quickly and inexpensively. My team consisted of college interns or newly graduated eager beavers. Every few days we moved to a new city, with different principals and we were expected to create 50-500 person public events in a matter of days. I shared rooms with campaign staffers who were hooking up or out all night drinking and I ran ridiculous errands to Target for supplies but my favorite part of the job was removing the “evidence” of the principal or senior staff’s existence. Mainly, I shredded confidential briefing memos and discarded empty bottles of wine.

Being on the campaign trail grows old with time. Mistakes are made. People are weary and temperamental.  One time I played the song,the Facts of Life at the end of a rally with Elizabeth Edwards. It was an accident since I cued up the wrong CD but upon hearing the lyrics, she scowled at me from across the room with a face of extreme disapproval. A pang of panic filled my body and then I giggled. A child of the 80s, I loved Mrs. Garrett who quite frankly reminded me of Mrs. Edwards.   I hope to never forget that moment of laughter through the insanity.

You take the good, you take the bad,
you take them both and there you have
The facts of life, the facts of life.There’s a time you got to go and show
You’re growin’ now you know about
The facts of life, the facts of life.When the world never seems
to be livin up to your dreams
And suddenly you’re finding out
the facts of life are all about you, you.
Fantasy Aisle

The excitement of being in Boston for Election Night did not last long. CNN called the election for President George W. Bush early in the night

Campaign life is not for everyone and I contend it’s mostly for the young and foolish.  I vaguely recall earning $60 dollars on preparation days and $100 on game day (the day the principal arrives) and even less on travel days. Eating at strip malls, sleeping in sparse accommodations, flying with several connections to ensure the cheapest flight and being berated by angry voters eventually takes its toll but I can admit, I enjoyed every minute of it. When it was over and John Kerry lost, I found myself at the Westin Hotel in the Back Bay of Boston in the rain. I can still picture the faces on my friends, true supporters—sullen and disappointed. I went to bed.

The next morning, I called United Airlines to see how many miles I accumulated from my campaign work.  I was on a train to New York City making my way to DC for a wedding.

“Hi, my mileage plus number is xxxx.  I want to know how far I can travel on my miles.”

United: “You can go to Hong Kong, Hanoi, Bangkok and Sydney.”

Me: “I can go to Sydney?”

United:  “Yes and you can even go First Class.”

Me:  “What is the soonest date I can leave?”

United: “We have flights starting November 15.”

Me:  “Great! I will book a one-way First Class trip from Chicago to Sydney departing November 15.”

And so began my life of solo travel around the globe.  I thank John Kerry and the American people for that privilege.  If the  JK/JRE/THK/EE team delivered a victory in 2004,  it’s possible my life would be very different.  I often think about the lingo, my friends, the people I met in the cities I visited, the game day adrenaline and the hottie Secret Service Agents, “Wheels Up, Rings Off” and I share fond memories of my experience.

Elections matter –even this one– and I encourage everyone to participate in some capacity.  Go vote!

 

Fantasy Aisle

Brad and Jodi reunited in Boston where campaign workers arrived from all over the country

*Disclaimer: I do not work for any of the Presidential Campaigns this cycle.


Destination Wedding, North America

Destination Wedding: Nantucket

February 10, 2016 • By

There are fantastic movies to adequately describe my plight in life such as 27 Dresses, the Wedding Date, My Best Friends Wedding but somehow those features end with the beautiful bride scooping up the handsome groom and I’ve either ended up with a hangover, or a dress I am totally never going to wear again. That’s why I am featuring a series on Destination Weddings over the coming weeks and I hope my stories will inspire couples to plan their dream wedding with pleasure.

Suffice it to say I participate in my fair share of weddings and I store a baggie full of bobby pins to prove it. I’ve experienced the highs and lows of each celebration and I’ve silently whispered to myself and maybe others around me which couples I deem worthy of staying power and those likely headed for divorce court.

This is why I am single.

The Bride and her sidekicks

The Bride and her sidekicks

Weddings are exciting. They are symbolic of something greater than the love between two people. They represent goodness and hope in the world and it’s an honor to be an attendee and a privilege to serve as an attendant. It’s also a time when friends and families come together for a joyous occasion. A wedding guest list tells the tale and the history of the couple. When I spend time talking with neighbors, old boyfriends, best friends from grade school or college, former work colleagues, new friends old friends, cousins I begin to piece together a narrative of the couple’s life I may not have known.

The stories warm my heart and make me laugh but they also explain the person standing before me today.

The Whaling Museum, Nantucket, Massachusetts

Emily and Joel met in 2012 at a birthday party of a mutual friend in New York City and they married atop the Whaling Museum on Saturday, September 26, 2016 with the sun setting, wind gusting and a rooftop of guests applauding their love. Their decision to marry on the Island of Nantucket was an easy one. Emily considered Nantucket a second home. Her sister married on Nantucket and her parents discovered the allure of the once sleepy island early in their marriage eventually buying a home and spending summers on Nantucket as a family. I most enjoyed an enthusiastic reading by friends providing an overview of the couple’s ancestry.

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Bride and Groom at the Whaling Museum Rooftop

Tips: Spend at least four days visiting Nantucket. It’s easy to stay short term or long term but be careful, you may never want to leave. You can rent a home for a month, find a special bed and breakfast within walking distance of the town or rest your head at one the hotels scattered around the island. It’s a great place for families or for those searching for solitude. I spent my days eating fudge at Aunt Leah’s Fudge, getting my licks in at the Juice Bar (Don’t miss the Green Monster) and tasting lobster roles every opportunity I found. I rented a bike at Young’s and each morning I peddled with purpose but without direction admiring the ocean views, vast areas of natural reserve and beautiful homes with pitches roofs, weathered gray shingles and blue and pink hydrangeas fading for the season.

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The alluring dock at the Wharf

When you arrive, you will be on island time, buy some cashmere sweaters for the ladies or Nantucket “reds” for the men, walk the cobblestone streets in the town, shop for antiques, admire the boats in the harbor and the clouds ushering in changing weather.  Slow your pace, decompress, smell the saltwater, feel the warmth of the sun on your back and the wind on your face.

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Pink hydrangeas fading for the fall

Nantucket is a great place for a destination wedding because it’s a vacation spot. You can fly from Boston, New York City, Washington DC, Philadelphia, and Providence or take the ferry from Cape Cod, Harwichport or Martha’s Vineyard.

After the wedding, I crawled to Black-Eyed Susan’s for some eggs and grits. I would say that was a sign of a good time and a fantastic wedding.

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Ice Cream at the Juice Bar tasting the Green Monster

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