This year I went from tree farming in rural Central Texas, while living in an electric-free 20th century smokehouse, to the Texas state Capitol where I worked in coat & tie in a legislative office alongside staffers for the Republicans. My thinking was this: So long as I still had the tools of a Journalist, I could repackage them and rearrange them in a way that would allow me to earn a salary while still swimming downstream toward my eventual goal of finding my voice and professional footing in the realm of the News industry.

I found that salary, and it was a handsome one, but I was made to act like I had drank the Kool-Aid in order to receive it — once it was clear I had not, and that I retained a mind of my own, the salary quickly disappeared and I returned to the ranks of the Working Poor. It was a nice break, to be down there along the Gulf Coast and in Austin, rubbing elbows with people in positions of Power, but I was not ready for it.

As I stared off into the Gulf of Mexico from my window in the Galveston hotel room the Campaign had paid for, I wondered how many more personal ethical boundaries I would have to cross to succeed at my job. The bored wealthy woman, our candidate, who was running on a platform built with a house of cards, was adamant about WINNING. That was on the minds of everyone, and as an avid student of Gen. George S. Patton, Jr., I thought I knew a thing or two about Winning.

Poverty for Writers predates the United States, and it was not something I wanted to return to now that I had finally “made it”. But to begin the process of losing my mind or my soul to some fucked up ideological puppeteering franchise was the furthest point from where I truly wanted to be: So I did the only thing I knew well, and, like Hemingway’s Robert Jordan, I bombed my bridges in the most strategic way I could.

By suggesting the Republicans work with reasonable Democrats, and by publicly calling the TEA Party the “American Taliban” (thanks Sorkin) and “homophobic racists”, as Sen. Ted Cruz staged his legacy-building on shutting down the government — I effectively proved I was still a Journalist at heart. And that my heart would dictate my actions before my logic could.

“I didn’t hire you to be on fucking MSNBC,” my boss told me.
“Put your goddamn Campaign Manager hat on.”
“Would you write that headline? Campaign Manager calls TEA Party ‘American Taliban’?!”

Why, yes, I would. And I hope I get to some day for a notable publication, somewhere out West. I look forward to exploring Jack London Country soon, in my new 1,000 mile Chelsea Boots from the Orvis Co., a place I work at now seasonally as I gear up for whatever is next.

What can I say? I am a Writer.