Yay! It's time for an update!
Sunday evening, I arrived at my host house, only to start morbid jokes with the girl whose room I'm sharing. Most salubrious for me beloved zany mind. After getting about 5 hours of sleep, I woke up for my first day of paging.
When I arrived at the page room in the basement of the Republican Senate Offices, I received, to my boredom and chagrin, the same lecture I got in page orientation on Sunday. But the catnap I snagged during that hour helped. Then it was off to page school, where pages go to school! Yes I'm tired, no you may not quote me, now do stop talking and let me continue. As I was saying I toddled off to page school. Now, I'll give the teachers this: they really do *try* to be honest and non-biased, but the succeeding bit is where they have a hard time. The first day's lesson was about wealth and income, and by the end of the two hours, it was clear that my teachers were, at best, very liberal, and at worst, slightly socialist. But what else should I have expected? So I called them on the socialism thing, which they handily dodged and moved on.
My first delivery of the day was from a Senate office to the Floor. The office needed a page quickly, and when I arrived, slightly out of breath, a giant bouquet of daffodils was thrust in my hands. Apparently, the staff had forgotten the flowers before the Senator left that morning, and I was told to hurry to the Floor to rectify the situation. A half-hearted "And please, don't spill" ushered me out of the room.
The deliveries I made over the course of yesterday took me from the basement of the Majority Senate Offices to the Republican Caucus room, to the supply room in a sterile, stark basement that would make a great horror movie set. Not to mention the Temple of Justice, and the Legislative building.
You could tell if you were in the Republican or Democratic caucus just by what was decorating the offices: The Democrats have big pictures of JFK, Harry Truman, and company, and the Democratic party symbol which looks suspiciously like Obama's running logo. In one office, I was greeted by a life-sized cardboard cutout of President Obama - I jumped, and the secretary told me everyone did that when they saw him. The Republican offices, though, had yellow ribbons and American flags and dried rose buds in them. I get a kick out of them.
Due to a rather unfortunate packing error, I wore a pair of Dad's black socks instead of my own yesterday. I'm not sure you know this, but he has bigger feet than I do. And bigger socks. So while my shoes were quite comfortable, the socks were not. One slid down into my shoe, causing a rather uncomfortable blister on the first day. Now, on to the second!
This morning, I woke up early just like before and got ready in the dark as my hosts slept. I stumbled out to the kitchen to grab a glass of water to take my tylenol with, and was surprised by the father of the house. I almost screamed. But I controlled the urge.
In the morning, I was scheduled to be on the Floor until lunch. However, the Senate didn't convene until 10:30, giving me a half-hour to go watch some of the Ways and Means committee meeting. Then when the Senate convened, I got to listen to a half-hour of Senators making Points of Personal Preference as they lauded the Navy guests we had today. Apparently today was Navy day, which explains the Navy Brass Band, the Navy Color Guard, and the large contingent of highly decorate, big-ranking type Navy officers. When the Senators were done, the interesting part ended. For the rest of the short Senate session, the Senators voted on a resolution acknowledging and praising the Apple Blossom Princesses and Queen of Wenatchee. Because apparently the Apple Blossom Princesses and Queen of Wenatchee are very important. So they passed the thingymajigg, and the Apple Blossom Queen of Wenatchee stood up to give a speech which I'm sure would have been really good if she had bothered to memorize it and make it sound human. Standards are slipping, I'm telling you. Standards are slipping.
You want to know what happened next?! The Democrats and the Republicans called caucuses and disappeared for the rest of the shift. All the pages played I Spy in the Rotunda while we waited for noon, though it was rather difficult considering that most of the colors there are pink, grey, gold, and green.
"I spy something green..."
"It's the State Flag."
It didn't seem like the best use of tax money resources for the Senate to pay us for sitting around on the steps for an hour, but hey, I don't mind. Though they got so desperate to find other colors in their game of I Spy that I had my eyes inspected a few times to discover if they were brown. :P
The other memorable thing that happened today was in Page School again. I succeeded in driving the conversation of "How should the state government balance its budget?" into an argument about the relative merits of privatizing education.
See, another page brought up the idea of completing doing away with public schools as a way to cut deficit spending (ie, debt). The more liberal teacher said something about 'Education is the number one priority of the Charter of Washington. You couldn't get rid of schools without ignoring our Constitution!" <---- At this point, my hand shot up in the air.
"Excuse me, but doesn't the Constitution state the education of its citizens should be encouraged and heped, but not that the government itself must be the one teaching?"
"Oh, so *you're* in favor of privatized schooling?"
I decided that for the sake of the argument yes, yes I was.
"Yup, Yellow Pages effect. If the government schools were a business, they'd be out of business by now."
"But it's too expensive."
And the conversation went on. I brought up some non-standard arguments, which they proceeded to refute with the rote memorization arguments. Finally, the teacher got ticked off with me.
"You know, this has been an interesting discussion, but you are a minority, and in a democracy, the majority is the one that makes the decisions."
I wasn't going to let her have the last word, let me tell you.
"Oh, but in a truly just government, democracy or otherwise, the majority works to protect and honor the opinions and beliefs of the minority."
Yes, really enjoyed myself in page school today.
And now, I must off to bed!