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The Adventures of Steve

Episode 13: The day after

Wednesday, January 21, 2004

At 7:00 Monday night, there was nothing more we could do. The doors had closed and the caucusing was on. My entire crew was gone, and they had taken a lot of the signage and literature out of the Storm office. They even took the last of the water bottles and granola. I spent a few minutes cleaning up the office, throwing out the pizza boxes, bagging up the water bottles. Then I locked up and walked over to James' office to return the key and the cell phones.

My intention was to get to the camp, get my things, then head south to Des Moines for the victory party. I started driving to the camp and was surprised to hear that 43 percent of the precincts were reporting already, and the news was bad.

I decided to skip Des Moines. I felt completely deflated. It didn't seem possible that so much work would result in such a dismal showing. I knew there was a lot I didn't know, and I knew that I had done my job well, but there was no escaping disappointment. I also projected the results to the rest of the race and mourned that too. And I had a lot of doubts about the candidate I was supporting.

I got to Hidden Acres and saw I was the only one there. Sitting in the van, listening to the radio, I waited for Dean's concession speech and was actually a little horrified by the foaming-at-the-mouth listing of states he intended to conquer. I took a bath and slept for fifteen hours.

When I woke up, I felt a certain cold determination. I called Mike and asked if he would have objections to me just climbing into his truck and going wherever he was assigned next. I drove into town, listening to the conservative talk shows, starting to learn some of the reasons Dean lost Iowa. This topic, of course, would be the subject of talk throughout the day.

When I arrived in Des Moines headquarters, the place was mostly abandoned and in complete disarray. The few staff members left were trying to encourage us not to give up, talking about how insignificant this loss really was, but even their mood was less than ebullient.

I talked to some people about what to do next. I noticed that those who were driving on to South Carolina or New Hampshire were really fired up. I wasn't. I decided to pass on that plan and hooked up with the Californians who were taking the train back to Oakland. After several minor adventures involving driving fifteen rental vans to Omaha and getting lost there twice, we finally made it to the Amtrak station.

While we were there, the TV showed Conan O'Brien doing a piece on the Iowa candidates and he got quite some mileage out of Dean's "impassioned" state list. That was disheartening, but funny, and he also had Joe Lieberman fall asleep while threatening to crush his opposition, and a tiny Dennis Kucinich being carried off by a falcon. I laughed really hard, and it was completely therapeutic to counter the dreariness of the day.

I'm now deep in the Rocky Mountains, headed to the only home I have right now in Sacramento. I'm going to get grounded, do some laundry, and plot my next move. There are primaries in Washington and Arizona coming up, but I need to get re-invigorated in the campaign first. Do I have the power? I am uncertain.


All of the Adventures of Steve

   Episode 1: In which Steve leaves Eugene and arrives in Rancho Cordova.
   Episode 2: In which Steve visits the Jelly Belly factory and gets a haircut.
   Episode 3: In which Steve gets a cold, a big box, and a seat on a train.
   Episode 4: In which Steve receives shiny new toys and loyal old friends.
   Episode 5: In which Steve departs for Iowa and rants a bit about why.
   Episode 6: In which Steve takes a trip to Des Moines.
   Episode 7: In which Steve gets really involved.
   Episode 8: In which Steve starts hobnobbing but is haunted by Arne Baker.
   Episode 9: In which Steve becomes a groupie and is informed that we all have love in our hearts.
   Episode 10: In which Steve becomes a media whore.
   Episode 11: In which Steve takes on Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Maryland, Maine and Michigan.
   Episode 12: In which Steve is pitted against Fort Dodge, Iowa and seven vans of unruly Texans.
   Episode 13: In which Steve learns that all his hard work wasn't enough to put the candidate back together again.
   Episode 14: In which Steve does nothing.
   Episode 15: In which Steve reaches a decision and attempts to get virtually hired.
   Episode 16: In which we thank the good doctor for all he did.
   Episode 17: In which Steve suits up for a new life in the Cap City!
   Episode 18: In which Steve starts to realize he’s not in Eugene anymore.
   Episode 19: In which Steve switches from job seeking to home seeking.
   Episode 20: In which Steve starts to learn some things via the error side of trial and error.
   Episode 21: In which Steve experiences his first blizzard.
   Episode 22: In which Steve contemplates his next move.
   Episode 23: In which Steve prepares to switch gears... again.
   Episode 24: In which Steve spends a week in a hotel with four thousand teenagers and then gives his 30-day notice.
   Episode 25: In which Steve reminisces about his 10 weeks in Columbus while waiting in the wings.
   Episode 26: In which the squeaky wheel gets the grease.
   Episode 27: In which Steve changes everything.
   Episode 28: In which Steve finds Brood X, gets a teeny crush on a fellow trainee and learns where he's going, approximately.
   Episode 29: In which Steve starts to see how politics really works.
   Episode 30: In which Steve writes a letter to Kelly, executive director of the group that fired me.
   Episode 31: In which Steve spends a tentative week commuting to work in Maine.
   Episode 32: In which Steve learns he's just one piece on the board.
   Episode 33: In which Steve settles in for three months of intense campaigning.
   Episode 34: In which Steve is deep into the final countdown.
   Episode 35: In which Maine wins, the nation loses and Steve heads home.
   Episode 36: In which Steve doesn’t do much more than comb the classifieds and update his Web site.
   Episode 37: In which Steve slips into a normal life.

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