Monthly Archives: November, 2008

Good Stress

I’m still adjusting. You get used to snarking from the outside and playing defense. I’m happy, I’m starting to feel hope, but it’s not quite real yet. And I’m very tired. On the stress scale, good events can cause stress as you adjust your life to accommodate change.

It feels like the poles of the universe have shifted, or just my assumptions of what is possible.

I’m speechless, so I’d like to post some good words from Mr. Green. Follow the link to the Liberty Elm diner on election night, courtesy of

A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood

My older daughter had her ninth birthday party today at the Cranston YMCA. It was well-attended and everyone had a great time in the pool. Then, on top of it, they were having a “Family Fall Festival” with a Space Bounce in the Gym, a Pinata at 3:15 and a candy hunt on the playground at 3:30. It was like having a birthday party with all these special unexpected bonuses added on. The kids were positively giddy by the end.

So thanks to the Cranston YMCA! Next year I will make sure to post a notice about the “Family Fall Festival” on Kmareka ahead of time.

Members of the Cranston community are always welcome to send me information about local family-friendly and/or educational events they would like publicized. Hope you are enjoying your weekend.

On Victory, Defeat, and Hope

The world feels so quiet and colorful here in Cranston, RI as the leaves fall and we begin to experience life after Bush, life on the yet-to-be-explored frontier of Obamaland. It felt to me from early on that Obama was inevitable, even before I became a true believer, and while I made phone calls for Obama on Saturday night with friends, calling Ohio, Virginia, and Colorado (all states Obama won) it was easy work — many people answered gladly that they would be supporting Obama. In a way it felt like victory was imminent, and part of me wondered if Obama’s grandmother also felt that imminence and finally relaxed and let go of her mortal self, left the earth in peace with confidence in a job well done.

Here in Cranston we also had another significant victory as Stephanie Culhane became our new school committee representative for Ward 2. It may feel, compared to Obama’s victory, like this is small potatoes, but not so — very few people have the courage to run for such a selfless job, and even fewer have the voice, skills, and ambition to win. Hats off to Stephanie and her campaign team, and as I said to her on Facebook, I hope she can take care of that pesky 8 million dollar deficit problem lickety-split (LOL!).

But while there were many large and significant victories, I also became more intimate with the experience of defeat last night, as Cindy Fogarty lost to Allan Fung 37-63%. Some things never change. Losing still stinks, no matter how old you get or how many times you weather it. It hurts to acknowledge the disappointment, and to begin to grapple with how much of the loss was your own responsibility versus factors that were outside of your control.

But nothing is ever wasted. I took on the job because I wanted the experience, and I kept working at it until the end because I had made the commitment and wanted to see it through. As a result, I learned tremendously about many things — the financial and educational issues Cranston is facing, the process of planning and running a campaign, the process of trying to build a movement. I became more appreciative of the work involved in trying to bring people together for a common goal when there is a recent history of division and warring factions within the group.

I always give people as much hope as possible. It’s part of my job as a clinical social worker. When families come to me feeling hopeless about their child’s behavior, when couples come to me unable to feel hopeful about their marriage, with their emotional “gas tank” running on empty, I look for ways in which we, together, can imagine and build a better future.

I believe in relationships. In taking on the campaign manager role for the Fogarty campaign, I believed that, with the right support and guidance, a strong Democratic challenge could be created. But sometimes I overestimate the power of relationships — a tendency that plays out as both a weakness and a strength for me. It’s the same tendency that got me out there supporting Obama early on — because he engaged my ability to imagine myself and so many other people having a different relationship with our country where we would be heard and known, where we would be “at the table” of decision-making to move the country in a better direction.

Over the next 30 days, I have decided to write daily about the experience of managing the Fogarty for Mayor campaign. It was an important opportunity, a touchstone that connected me with the community and helped me understand the many dynamics at play in Cranston politics. In concert with National Novel Writing Month (though this will be memoir), I am going to take this opportunity to present that experience and try to draw some “life lessons” from it. I will also bring into the story the many people I met and worked with along the way and how they influenced me, and/or how I influenced them, as the campaign unfolded.

Think of it as a local political soap opera with daily installments. Tune in tomorrow for more As the Campaign Turns.

Election Night

We spent election night with our good friend, Mary Grady, from Natural News Network. She is a professional writer, and has a great post about the scene at the Liberty Elm Diner and the Biltmore. You can read it here. What were you doing on Tuesday?

Adjusting Expectations

I’ve seen a few first ladies, the elegant Jackie Kennedy, the outgoing Ladybird Johnson, the long-suffering Pat Nixon, Betty Ford who survived being outed for alcoholism and became a spokeswoman for recovery, Rosalyn Carter, her husband’s partner in philanthropy, Nancy Reagan always perfectly turned out, Barbara Bush with her pearls, Hillary Clinton, the first viable female presidential candidate, and Laura Bush, woman of mystery.

While it’s true that they are all white, they bring to the role of first lady a fair amount of individuality–dare I say diversity?

So what am I to make of these two headlines on Reuters News on Yahoo? One woman seems to be tailor-made for the job,

Cindy McCain fits the role of first lady

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – With her elegant clothes and perfectly coiffed blond hair, Cindy McCain looks the part of a U.S. first lady.
She is also well prepared for the role.

Heiress to a fortune estimated at more than $100 million and chairwoman of one of the largest privately held companies in Arizona, McCain has traveled overseas extensively with different philanthropic organizations, visiting Cambodia, Sri Lanka, Angola, India, Vietnam and other countries.

The other seems to have some rough edges…

Michelle Obama softens image for first lady role

ATLANTA (Reuters) – Michelle Obama will bring the skills of a corporate lawyer to the White House if her husband wins the U.S. presidency, but she says her priority will be her role as “mom-in-chief” to the couple’s daughters.
Democrat Barack Obama faces Republican John McCain in Tuesday’s election. If the first-term Illinois senator wins, he will become the first black U.S. president and his wife the first black first lady.

I saw Michelle Obama speak at CCRI, and she was lacking nothing in the elegant clothes and hair department. She did get out on the campaign trail early, long before Cindy McCain began appearing at rallies and speaking, which created more opportunities for ‘gotcha’. And yes, she’s black. I noticed that right away.

What is a first lady supposed to look like? I see Cindy McCain in the Nancy Reagan mold, slender, perfectly made up, standing by her man. I see Michelle Obama in the Jackie Kennedy mold, energetic, accomplished, a mother to young children. Both of them are experienced travelers, used to a public life. So why does one ‘fit the role’ while the other needs to be sanded down before she gets into the groove? What does ‘All American’ look like? Michelle, whatever you do, don’t dye your hair blonde.


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