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October 24, 2007

I've been up and down the Hill so much I feel like Jill-- sans bucket

I think my favorite part of my job is going to hearings up on the Hill. I don’t care what they’re talking about; watching people in power interact is just fascinating. I especially like going to hearings in the Capitol building, which is just beautiful—from the murals on the ceilings to the mosaic tiling on the floor.

Today I went to a hearing of the House Rules Committee, one that I had hoofed all the way to the Hill for yesterday only to find it had been postponed. Today I discovered they had once again put off discussion on the bill I was there to cover to sometime next week, but I figured I’d stick around to hear a report from the Small Business Committee since I was there already.

The atmosphere in these hearings is enough to make someone with ADD scream for mercy. You’d think there would be some sense of decorum; it is, after all, a meeting of our nation’s leaders. But there are always people coming in and out of the room, banging the doors as they go about their business. The staffers seated behind their fearless leaders are nearly always chattering with each other, if not demanding said leader’s ear while people are testifying.

And everyone, I mean EVERYONE, is constantly on their Blackberries. There’s a near-constant hum in the room as vibrations from incoming messages demand attention. It's just rude.

Anyway, I’m ever-so-glad I chose to stick around today because I was lucky enough to witness some of the worst partisan bickering I’ve seen yet. The chair of the committee, Rep. Louise Slaughter (D-N.Y.) got into a tiff with ranking member Rep. David Dreier (R-Calif.) over deadlines to submit bill amendments. Dreier was complaining that she roundly rejects Republican amendments for being as little as five minutes late.

Apparently her leadership of this powerful committee has rankled Republicans since she took the reins this session.

While Slaughter denied that she had a partisan motivation for rejecting amendments, Dreier kept up a constant drone of requesting to speak. When he finally got his chance he refused to look at anyone in the room in the eye, instead doodling in his notebook. I think this is what he was making.

October 23, 2007

Fears of My Life

Searching for inspiration for a blog post, which I haven't had in a disgustingly long time, I turned to something I remembered hearing on This American Life this summer called "Fears of Your Life." Author Michael Bernard Loggins went through an exhaustive list of everything he was afraid of, from the funny to the creepy to the poignant.

What follows, dear readers, are the fears I have experienced already today.

-Fear of sleeping through my alarm
-Fear of my gross roommate getting into the shower when I need to and making me late
-Fear of getting in the shower and realizing I'm out of shampoo
-Fear of seeing my gross roommate naked
-Fear of my gross roommate seeing me naked
-Fear of my pants being too short
-Fear of forgetting chapstick
-Fear of forgetting my keys and being locked out
-Fear of chemical-laced frozen food causing cancer
-Fear of dropping my wallet on the train tracks
-Fear of dropping my body on the train tracks
-Fear of tripping down escalators
-Fear of the heel of my shoe breaking off in the middle of the day
-Fear of birds pooping on my head
-Fear of people in my office I haven't yet met secretly despising me
-Fear of wildfires
-Fear of outer space
-Fear of my editor thinking I'm stupid

-Fear of smelling the way my kitchen does
-Fear of losing access to the Internet
-Fear of a flaw in my life plan

I'll add to this as the day continues. Fun game: leave comments about your fears.

October 11, 2007

Far, far ago, there was a meeting of the very boring people

My editor has been out of town the past two days, and the same woman who filled in for him my first two weeks and made me cry with frustration every night because my stories never seemed to get into the paper under her watch was back in control.

On Tuesday she had me go to a meeting our governor would be attending. I told her they wouldn't be talking about anything we cared about, but she wanted me to go anyway to get some quotes from the governor for another reporter's story. I sat through two and a half hours of excruciating boringness (the gov was even nodding off) and dutifully snagged an interview with him afterward. I sent his transcribed quotes back to the reporter, but in the morning I checked out his story and they were nowhere to be found.

That's Waste of Time numero uno.

Yesterday I went straight to cover a House subcommittee meeting in the morning because one of our congressmen sits on the parent committee. My fill-in editor thought they were talking about one thing, though I told her repeatedly they were talking about something entirely different. When I got back and told her that, like I thought, they didn't talk about what she wanted them to, she decided we didn't need a story about it.

That's Waste of Time numero dos.

When I returned to the office at 12:15 or so my coworker told me the powers that be wanted him to concentrate all his efforts on a story about another of our congressmen, so I was to go to a different subcommittee meeting in the afternoon he had been planning to cover. I barely had time to retrieve and eat lunch before leaving for this hearing, which started at 2. Forty-five minutes into it, before the guy I was there to cover had even testified, they took what became an hour-long break for floor votes. I didn't end up getting out of there until 4:35, landing back at the office at 5:10. I raced to file my story by 6 and was proud of myself for being successful.

This morning I searched my name on our website to read my story and see how it had been butchered. I couldn't find it. Instead I found a wire story on the hearing.

Yup. WoT #3.

So, in sum, I may as well have been dead these past two days.

October 2, 2007

Creepiest moment of my life

My roommate and I had a routine, or so I thought. He gets in the shower at 7:45, does God knows what until 8:20 (with various faucets running the whole time, mind you) and then gets to work by 8:30. Once I hear the front door slam shut, I then enter the shower, do my routine (which has never taken more than 15 minutes, even when I shave my legs and blow dry my hair) and hang around eating breakfast, reading news sites and whatever else until I must leave at 9:20.

But lately he's been throwing a wrench in that wheel. On Friday he didn't get into the shower until 8:25, meaning I didn't get in until 8:55, but by some miracle I still got to work before 10. This morning, since I didn't hear him go into the bathroom I showered at 8:15 as a precaution. Hearing no signs of life emanating from his room thereafter, I assumed he left for work before I got up or was perhaps on a business trip.

So there I was at 9:00, straightening my hair in the bathroom with the door wide open, singing a little song to myself in my blessed solidarity. But as I reached up for another hank of hair to tame, I glimpsed his face bobbing around in the mirror, staring at me.

Get. Me. Out. Of. Here.