I looked around my house the other day and realized that by becoming so immersed in Barack Obama's Campaign for Change, my wife and I have literally put most of the rest of our lives on hold. Our kitchen sink is perpetually full of dirty dishes. Our garden is fully of pathetic, frost-killed plants we haven't pulled out. The laundry's piling up on TOP of the hamper (no room IN the hamper.) The dogs are unwalked, the water faucet is dripping, and we've been eating out way more than we've been cooking. Mow the lawn?! That's funny!
It's Life on Hold until after November 4th. Nearly every night we're doing something for the campaign and, when we're not, we're too tired to do housework. Our weekends are no longer our own. I began to wonder if we've taken this too far; if we've developed some sort of weird obsession. I started asking around and to my surprise I found out that, not only are we not unique, we're typical. Many Obama volunteers, it seems, have put things on hold until after the election.
So I sent out a note to several Obama groups asking people what they are putting on hold in their lives until after the election. Here's what I found out.
For some people, their intensive campaigning has begun to interfere with their everyday lives. For example, Lynne S. drives an ObamaMobile but can barely get into it these days:
I am the poster child for this project. I can't fit in my car because of all the Obama stuff and I think my house is on the condemned list. I will respond directly to your request when I get home from my canvass. I only ask that no pictures are taken.
Other people are literally postponing their careers and education in order to get Senator Obama elected. Katie B. has taken a break from getting her PhD.:
I am putting off writing my dissertation to help Obama. I was so panicked when McCain pulled out of Michigan that I'd have to go back to working on 16th century drama before November 4. Thank goodness the campaign is still in full swing around here!
She's not the only one. Matt has also taken a break from school:
I'm a political science major but I took off a semester because this seemed like a much better education than any class I could take. I'm working for an online bookstore selling liberal books to pay the bills but most of the time I'm down here [at the Campaign headquarters].
And then there's D. White's daughter. She has put off getting a job until after November 4th:
My daughter is putting off looking for a new job. She says "What is the use?" because there will not be any new jobs available until Barack Obama is elected President. We have been engaged to the fullest. Knocking on doors, making calls, arranging absentee ballots and talking to friends and family. .
Like me, a lot of these unpaid volunteers are using up precious vacation time at work to spend it campaigning for Obama. Karen Y. is one example:
I put everything on hold, even took my vacation time so that I could support Senator Obama. My laundry's not done, so I'm wearing the weird, wrinkled clothing from the bottom of the hamper. But that's ok.
I spent most of the summer online sending flyers to most of the states (I'm registered with over 300 Obama groups on the listserv and wade through over 1600 emails per day). Activities include posting to blogs and fighting the Karl Rove tactics by squashing whisper campaigns on Digg, posting comments on major news papers like Washington Post or on Fox or CNN (love Cafferty). You name it. I created flyers for canvassers nationwide, fought hard to squash the smears against Obama, compiled the first list of all Senator Obama's accomplishments in the IL and US senates and blasted it nationwide just to shut up those who asked "what major accomplishments has Obama achieved?" The nerve of them! I'm also actively involved with a group who nails the press when they commit Media Malpractice by misrepresenting the facts -- keep them honest.
It is frustrating, nerve wracking, fun, exhilarating and downright awesome!
Piles seems to be a common theme. Piles of dishes. Piles of clothes. Piles of unsorted mail. Piles on top of piles spilling over onto other piles... Like Sandra S.:
I have a small business and an old computer and printer in the back room. I have been spending more time back there in the last few weeks printing stuff for the Obama headquarters we set up here in our small town than business. Art projects have gone on hold (that is my business) and I knew everything else was as well. It really showed up when the leak under the sink upstairs started showing through the ceiling in the kitchen downstairs, the soak-it-up pile of towels we kept throwing down the basement steps started smelling and the dishwasher water backed up into the sinkwhere the broken food disposal was waiting for attention. I finally took a couple of days to take care of the call we had been putting off to the plumber. It was embarrassing to have him climb over the piles to get to the valves downstairs. All my robo calls are from the different utilities I have forgotten to pay (the weeks pile up like the mail has).... my whole life is a pile right now. .... Gotta go... it's my shift at the headquarters.
People from other countries are even getting into the act. Rachel D. from Canada put her family's Thanksgiving dinner (2nd day of October for Canadians) on hold to drive to Michigan for two days of campaigning:
Thanksgiving. A weekend to rest and be with family. Except if you're a Canadian Obama fan. One ex-pat and 2 French-Canadians drove 12 hours -- each way -- to Dearborn, Michigan. Then proceeded to knock on doors in Redford for 6 hours straight, then go back to the Dearborn office to do more work, on the phones and data entry. Only to do it again the next day, before making the loooooooooong trek back home.
Yeah, mom's turkey dinner would have been easier, but 2 days after returning home, we learn that Michigan has swung into non-swing state mode.
A. Buttery (an aptly-named person to be sure) and her husband normally get heavily involved in the big popcorn sale fundraiser that takes place every fall to raise money for the Cub Scouts. Not this year:
Normally we spend a lot of time in October going door-to-door to sell Cub Scout popcorn to raise money for our pack's activities. This year we haven't knocked on a single door--for popcorn, that is. I have canvassed for Obama instead, delivered signs to willing homes, and made calls.
And finally, from Emily E. comes the story of a man who made the most amazing sacrifice of anyone I have talked to - his health!
I met a man at a phone bank last week at the Ann Arbor office who, I kid you not, was waiting to have his kidney stones treated until after the election so he wouldn't be "laid up" for a while in recovery and could volunteer everyday!
Made my two hours of volunteering on Fridays after a week of grad school seem like a walk in the park! haha
With less than a week to go, most of America is looking forward to putting the election behind them. But for unpaid volunteers for the Obama-Biden Campaign for Change, it's not because we're tired of the television commericals or sick of pollsters calling or weary of the mailings we get everyday. For us we're just looking forward to getting to that plumbing project, walking our dogs, and having clean toilets for the first time in months.
And, you know what? I guarantee that every single one of them will say that it was worth it.
For more posts on Election Anxiety, click here.