Support the U Day

It seems that every story I tell begins with me waking up obnoxiously early.  Since I guess I’ve only heavily hinted at it up until now, I should say straight out that I am not a morning person.  Far from it.  You would know this if you’ve ever talked to me before nine a.m; I may have been incoherent, or I may have been mean.  What I’ve come to learn, however, is that although they start sluggishly, and usually with little natural light, early mornings often lead to fantastic days.

Today was Support the U Day.  A three-hour bus ride during which I managed to pour people’s OJ without sloshing it all over their jeans, teach the Minnesota Rouser to everyone (while possibly singing/chanting out of tune; ask the guy who stood in front of me), and accomplish nothing homework-related.

Then we arrived, and despite attempts to be everlastingly blasé, my mouth hung open just a tad.  I’ll never fail to be impressed by the state capitol building.  It’s marble and murals and an echoing rotunda and an inspiring portrait of Jesse Ventura in the basement:

In the standing-around-and-gaping stage before the rally began, (Support the U Day, I must explain, is when students of the University of Minnesota bus down to the Capitol to talk to their legislators about the importance of funding the U), President Kaler (of the U of MN) came up and shook my hand.  Well, we all know how I get around famous people.  I stuttered something about us being from Morris, while wondering if my handshake had been limp.  Everyone hates a limp handshake.

We pause for a moment in order for the writer to mention that she is currently blogging in her apartment stairwell (for lack of a better place to go), and that the RA just came by on his rounds.  Your friendly blogger scared him half to death, which was fairly entertaining, especially paired with the fact that it’s awfully difficult to explain yourself when you and Mac are sitting in a stairwell on a Friday night.

And back to the story…

Note: there is no snow in Minnesota currently. This picture (along with the one of Jesse) was taken last year, when I brought my camera to Support the U Day (and remembered to use it).

The rally was kicked off (as all rallies should be) with speeches.  We heard from President Kaler, from Governor Dayton, and from various student leaders.  Then Morris folks, at the count of four, began clapping out the Rouser.  We ended up singing alone (despite, I must add, the number of other U of MN students in the vicinity), but it was fun and it got everyone revved for some lobbying.

Unfortunately, and unlike last year, students were not able to meet with their legislators (from their home districts) individually.  Instead, because both the senate and the house were in session, we had to send notes into the forums, asking certain legislators to come out and chat with us.  Most of them were kind enough to do so, and we huddled around them in vaulted hallways, listening to them defend their votes with regards to the U.  They all said, of course, that the University is important, and that we (the students) are the future.     Yes, yes.  But then why are you cutting University funding down to 20% of our budget request?  How do you expect us to live up to the high standards we’ve established-technological innovation, top-notch research, sustainability, global outlook, academic excellence, etc.-if you won’t provide us with the means to maintain them?  How do you expect our generation, and the next, to lead the state someday, when we consistently feel that the state doesn’t value our education?  What do you have to say to the first generation college student who works three part-time jobs while at school, and will still graduate with $30,000 worth of student loans?

Those are some of the questions we had, and will continue to have, as the state continues to hole up in the Capitol and ignore the needs of its most valuable resource.

The bus ride home was quieter; most people snuggled down into their jackets and slept.  A few Disney singalongs floated up from the back of the bus, but I was too far gone to think about joining in.  So far gone, in fact, that when I finally awoke, I had a spot of drool on my sweater.  Attractive.

Tomorrow, I am happy to report, has the makings of being just as powerful of a day.  At 10:30 I’m going to a creative non-fiction writing workshop led by Michael Perry (http://sneezingcow.com/).  Having read an excerpt from “Coop” in class, and having attended his reading/concert earlier this evening, I can safely say that I will be learning a lot in this workshop.  And that I want to read all of his books, and will do so the minute Amazon delivers them to me.

The Rest for Rest

What I want to say tonight is that I loved The Hunger Games last night/this morning.

In all honesty (and you won’t hear me say this often), the movie was everything I’d hoped for.  It stuck to the book as much as it possibly could have.  The casting was magnificent.  The acting superb.  The special effects were nice, although I don’t talk about that.

It’s been a long week, as I’m sure you’ve noticed (given the increasing desperation/decreasing length of my posts).  My running mate and I (sometimes alone, sometimes together) went to a total of fifty meetings this week.  Meetings with faculty, staff, students, etc.  And they’ve all been enjoyable, of course, but there have been many of them, and I’m so grateful for the weekend, which features one afternoon of campaign stuff and the rest for rest.

Sorry about all this election talk.  It’ll be over April 6.

Story Departing

Besides pitching our platform to so very many fine people, guess what I did today?

I finally turned in the darn story.

12 pages long.

Officially the longest (by far) story I’ve ever written.  Actually, the longest anything I’ve ever written.

I have yet to reach the 20 page research paper stage of college, but oh my, it’s coming.

Now to bed.  I really should start studying for Friday’s quiz, but sleep is much more important; I’m still recovering from Monday’s almost-all-nighter, and it’s difficult to be charming and persuasive whilst campaigning when one is only half-conscious.

P.S. Hunger Games premiere tomorrow night (technically Friday morning).  Who’s excited?

Gone Caucusing

Rick Santorum won Minnesota.

Excuse me while I throw up in my mouth a little bit.

Believe it or not, the caucus I was at last night was the Republican caucus.  I thought it would be a little more interesting, and I guess I was curious about how the other side operates.

They operate normally.  Water was served.  And coffee.  And an opaque red liquid that we assumed to be fruit punch.  People were wearing scrubs, and jumpsuits, slacks, and other just-got-off-work apparel.  A toddler wearing a shirt that said “I am fiscally responsible” ran around the room, doling out waves and blown kisses.

I took note of all this, sitting at a table with others from Politics and Film.  Most of us were Liberals, and thus denied name tags and banished off to the side.  We exchanged some humorous eyebrow wiggles when the old “how many Democrats does it take to change a lightbulb” joke was told.

When the actual Straw Poll began, we slipped out one by one, stealing redwhiteandblue mints as we passed the check-in table.

I hitched a ride back to campus, traipsed up to my room and my bed, and that was when I clicked to Huffpost and received the delightful news about a certain land of 10,000 lakes and a certain candidate who once said:

“Isn’t that the ultimate homeland security, standing up and defending marriage?”

Way to pick a winner, Minnesota.  Let’s try to get our act together by November.

A King’s Life

I’m feasting like a king over here.  Baby carrots, black olives, and blackened grilled cheese (well, the blackened part was accidental).  A darling stick of fair trade chocolate for dessert, courtesy of one Gretchen Z., who gave it to me a few minutes ago.

Tonight’s duties include caucusing, taking the College Jeopardy online test (which you can take too, but only if you promise not to beat me), and working the late shift.

The caucus ought to be fun; I’m attending on assignment for Politics and Film.  I’m to observe, participate if desired, and then write one page explaining how I would film a small, rural caucus.

So far, my plan includes Jeff Daniels.

Student Government

It’s been an important Monday in the old student government.

First, we passed an amendment to encourage the bookstore to buy apparel made outside of sweatshops.

Then we approved a letter to be sent to the Minnesota legislature saying that we as university students are against the marriage amendment coming up for vote.  That we as students don’t appreciate our state’s efforts to institutionalize discrimination.  Here’s my favorite line: “Informed by our understanding of American political heritage, we firmly declare that the potential determination of a majority of voters this November to institutionalize discrimination-largely based on fear and appeals to convention and establishments of religion-tyrannically threatens not only minority groups, but the very spirit of what this institution of higher learning is all about.”

We all signed the letter afterwards, every last one of us scrawling our names into large John Hancocks.

 

 

A Train Education, Part Two

This afternoon I picked ten burrs off my dog/wannabe swamp renegade.  I went on another run, and it once again didn’t kill me (wonders never cease).  I also received my first Spring Semester textbook in the mail.  It’s titled “Cod: A Biography of the Fish that Changed the World.” World History is sure going to be interesting.

Having done all of these things, I am finally ready to continue the train saga from yesterday.

Part two begins when The New Zealander I Met on a Train asks me about politics.

I reacted with some inner panic.  I’ve never been one to be informed about politics, and I’ve always been sensitive about it.  After all, what kind of person doesn’t know what’s going on in her own country?  What kind of person doesn’t take interest in the people making decisions that directly impact her life?  Me, I guess.  And it’s not that I don’t care about politics, it’s just that I see politics as an exclusive club, one that I can’t enter because I’ve just been on the outside for too long.  I don’t know the secret club lingo, I don’t know the handshake, and I’m afraid to say anything that will betray my ignorance.

“What do you think about Obama?” The man asked me.

“I voted for him in 2008.  And I think that he’s doing the best he can.  I think that he’s still trying to clean up someone else’s mess, and that he should be given another chance.”

“But Obama’s terrible!”  The man exclaimed.  “He hasn’t done anything he promised to do!”

“But…” I sputtered desperately for some intelligent reply.  There was something about Medicare.  And the War In Iraq.  Weren’t the troops coming home?  Or were more being sent out?

“He caught Osama bin Laden,” I pronounced triumphantly, hoping we could at least agree on that and be done with it.

“Oh, Osama’s been dead for years.  Ask anyone on the street.  I have friends from the Middle East, and they say everyone knows that Obama just dug up old news because he needed to be a hero.”

“Who do you think should be elected then?”

“Do you know anything about Ron Paul?”

And so, I spent two hours on a train learning, from a non-American, all about American politics.  The man explained the Federal Reserve System to me.  He explained that much of  America’s money is in Europe, and that we’ve got to get it back if we ever want to end the recession.  He explained that our Founding Fathers had warned about putting our money elsewhere.  He explained Ron Paul’s plan to bring back the gold standard.  He explained that unless things change, politicians will continue to cater to four large banks that can pull the entire nation into a depression with the curl of a finger.  He explained what “too big to fail” means.  He wrote down websites for me to visit and books for me to read.

When the train reached its final destination, the man stood, said that it was nice to meet me, and walked swiftly down the aisle.

I imagine that he’s a regular nomad these days; hopping trains filled with uninformed American students, and, in his Peter Jackson voice, doling out career advice and political illumination in one subtle swoop.

Please don’t misunderstand me; I’m not writing this post to toot Ron Paul’s horn, or to throw Obama under the bus.  I’m simply writing about that one time on a train to Amsterdam when I met a man from New Zealand, and he told me an awful lot of things I’ve been dwelling on ever since.

Sir, if you’re out there, I should tell you that my name is Holly.  I now read the Huffington Post every day, I want to be an English professor, and I’m undecided about my 2012 vote.