With Easter being as early as it can be this year, every ritual day that comes with it is also early. Hence Ash Wednesday today. Yesterday, then, was Fat Tuesday: the final day before Lent begins, when people traditionally do lots of all the things they're committing themselves not to do for forty days. Essentially, the last chance to sin as much as possible. I, however, didn't sin out of control. I've decided not to give anything up for lent this year (previous years have included chocolate, french fries, caffeine). Instead, I am committing myself to doing. Do more. Not more stressful things like hosting speech tournaments, but more for myself and the greater good. When I promise myself I will work out every day, I fail. It's easy to let myself down. My commitment during lent, however, always feels like a promise to God. I don't like to let Him (or Her) down. I did have one big glass of wine after caucusing, though. But that's not a sin (nor am I giving up alcohol...I considered it, as it was something I'd not done yet, but then I realized I'd be visiting AR during lent...can one survive a week in Arkansas without booze?).
Yes, after telling people I wasn't going to, I felt drawn to the caucus in the middle school basement three blocks from my house. Yesterday was also Super Tuesday; twenty-four total states held primaries or caucuses last night. I took the MPR online surveys and I watched a video titled "How to Caucus" on YouTube to prepare myself, but it was absolutely nothing like the real thing. I told myself going in that I was going to learn. That was my purpose. I wouldn't talk, I wouldn't offer to help or be a delegate, just learn. Yeah, right. Do I know myself at all? If it weren't for the inconvenient district caucus date (Saturdays=speech tournaments), I would be a delegate. I am easily caught up in things I am learning. Only about a half an hour had gone by before I stood up to include my two cents. On the "how-to" video, this would have been easy, as they showed only 20 people in a room. My precinct (which I now know) had over 200 people caucusing! Which often led to mass confusion. Our chair wasn't the best. But we got things done. And it was fun. Not roller-coaster fun, but ferris wheel fun. I learned. I will go again. I was part of quite the push, as caucus records were not merely broken, but shattered, last night. According to MPR, the highest number of caucus goers in MN in the past was about 80,000 during the Vietnam War. Last night, over 325,000 people participated. That's democracy at work. Awesome.
In the end, Obama won MN...by a lot. There was no vote for senate, but my group decided (in a very roundabout, crazy sort of way) to do our own, just to find out who people support (this may have been where I spoke up). Of our votes, Franken led, followed by Nelson-Pallmeyer, then undecided, then Ciresi. I think this is how it will shake down in the end. Really, I think any of the three men will be better than Norm. My pinkie toe would be better than Norm, but this is not a political blog :-).
Happy Ash Wednesday, if you recognize it. I'm trying a new church tonight to worship. To anticipate salvation. To be forgiven. To be marked with ashes. To combine religion and politics in a blog without being too crazy.