Unexpected Consequences of the Government Shutdown: National Archives Closed

The government shutdown was easily preventable. Whether blamed on legislation or on one party or another, the whole thing is an imbecilic and catastrophic effect of the brinkmanship between the President and the houses of Congress. There are enough complications in the matter that no “good guy” appears.
in all of it. However, there are representatives of the United States people involved. I don’t care about their “big business” connections. I care presently about whether I can run my business and whether I can get to my needed resources to get my business done.

I am a genealogist. Without the National Archives open, I cannot do my work, specifically if I need a historical naturalization, it is nice and locked up. No one seems to have access if no one is working there. Conservation is not happening. Cataloging and all those things that the government does to attempt to have free and open access to public information stops. The government is, of essence, breaking some of its own laws without sufficient access to documents allowed by the Freedom of Information Act.

Case in point: Yesterday was the first time I tried to contact the National Archives since the shutdown. Although the phone line at the Chicago Branch rang, no one answered. I tried the National line and heard a voice mail about their being shut down due to the government shutdown. It’s so nice to hear that the nation’s archives, as formed as part of the Constitution, is non-essential. Isn’t that pretty?

I tried contacting my house representative first seeing as there were more representatives, maybe I might get a tiny touch more time than the Senator’s offices allowed. I found out who my representative was and emailed Jan Schakowsky.

From there, I looked up my senators. Mark Kirk and Richard “Dick” Durbin. Mark Kirk had someone there to help me find his email form and to allow me to voice a concern. Dick Durbin’s office may as well have not existed. His pre-recorded message indicated that his office shut down. So he considers himself “non-essential” personnel? *stunned silence for about three seconds* HOW DARE HE! I am one of his represented constituency. That means that he should ALWAYS be open and available. If not in an emergency, then when? There was an emergencies only line available and I called that and left a message. Apparently he does not want contact. If you are representing ME, you had BETTER want my contact and be willing to respond and to reply. No matter how well-connected in Washington you are, it does not matter if you do not pay attention to, listen, and field the concerns of your represented people.

Is he just a crony for policy, or does he truly consider himself “non-essential?” I have no problems making sure that he is non-essential if he does not consider contact with his constituency of enough influence to have even one person to staff a phone or field an email.

Whether or not Dick Durbin is attempting to make a point with shutting down his office in showing what the government looks like without workers, he is allowing the idea that he does not want to work for me. So fine, don’t work for me. I’ll find someone who will.

As for Mr. Kirk, he kept his office open and some nice people took my comments today. As for Jan Schakowsky, I called her today, left some contact info, and expect to hear back before the end of the day.  Whether I get SPAMMED or not, at least there is someone there to work for me instead of packing up and forgetting who got him or her to Washington in the first place.

And no, I have no problems in performing daily emails, phone calls, and even writing physical letters. I have no problems in organizing and going to their offices if necessary.

Messing with how I make a living and how I feed my family when you supposedly serve me makes me upset enough to do something about it. I would not be an activist if not driven to it.


Moments to Be Grateful for: Recent Semester Review

It’s the end of my first semester of grad school. I am surprised at how fast it all went by. I started out being terrified, and after trying some things on a whim, they worked out exceeding my best expectations.

Coinciding with this is my first avid use of Twitter and I adore it. It’s a place where I’ve learned quickly that not much gets filtered, (unless there’s something that I don’t know), and I’m starting to not be nervous as my personal and professional lives intertwine in ways that I never expected. Parts of my life already bled between atmospheres, but I am re-learning that you get back what you put towards others. The more-positive I become about life, the more wonderfully or beautifully infectious the thoughts processes become. Bottom line? I’m in love with grad school and so grateful that I felt to come to Chicago back in ’06. It took a really long time to get here, but I’m here and I adore this place. The people are nicer than I ever expected, the driving as intense as I like it, and the food is fabulous, albeit more expensive than I wish. My schools are a beautiful blend of city meets suburbia and I can’t get over how much I love the  thing. The people, the day, the feel of it all is better than I ever planned for myself.

Being a temple worker is also exactly what I need. During the LUC conference, one of the questions that the commentator posed was about the theological aspects to the topic. I purposely left out most of it. Although I could give him very solid answers for any theological questions that he has about LDS family history, the thought was not to over-explain but to simply be cool with it. I am very much willing to discuss any belief in question. Although I am not unequal or uncommitted, there wasn’t a strong need to delve into the theology at that forum.

I am extremely grateful for the respectful response that the paper generated. Because of this, I can move and continue scholarship. This past week there was a reading for Oral History class that dealt with the lives of people who live in Mexico, revolving around an oil boom/bust period called Mexican Lives. Part of what I read made me think of people who win the lottery. When you’re not used to having money, it gets to you and you blow it quickly. There are options for you that were never available before and it’s nearly a manically high feeling attached. At least, that’s what is reported. After taxes, it’s this big spending spree that normally leaves people in worse condition than previously. I do not wish to denigrate anyone who has won a lottery, but that is the stereotype. So, yes, the money got to the heads of the people in charge and financially destroyed the country before it had anywhere to go.

There are also the social implications inherent in a society where it is taught that there is a Mediator figure or a Savior in terms of the people of the society expecting someone else to save them. I agree with needing a Mediator, and there is a crucial need for a Savior, specifically Jesus Christ. I am a fan of grace, and believe that my works are a result of believing in grace. Feel free to disagree. No problems.

I definitely have nothing whatsoever against the Catholic Church, the major Church background of Mexico and much of the world. My family was Catholic in earlier generations, and I go to Catholic schools. Far be it for me to ever rant on another person’s religion. When you’ve been a minority your whole life then you know that what you appreciate and love more than anything else in the world is not appreciated by everyone. You don’t mean to be defensive. It’s just that you never know what other people’s experience is with your religion, how people practiced the religion or didn’t, and you have to have faith that your own life is your best “defense” against nay-sayers while still admitting and acknowledging your own humanity.

It’s also another thing that people who are not my religion hold people of my faith to a higher standard. What I do gets scrutinized regularly, and I expect it. I have to be an honorable person, and still open-minded and positive. It’s a fine balancing line, and you just pray that who you really are comes out in a positive way as people see you. The whole “by their fruits” notion. I want to be honorable. I expect that my life can be happy now, and I am grateful for the good moments. It’s not always going to be happy all the time, but I think that it’s a combination of attitude about the potential trial and being okay with it.

During the final for a class presentation this past week I knew that I wanted to present a short video on current museum practices and a spec spreadsheet for the technical aspects of the digital needs of the historical society we were trying to help. The sound in the presentation room wasn’t working. Under a lot of pressure for this final to get everything together and for it to work right. There was a point where it appeared as if nothing could be done and I was stuck without half of my five minutes. A call to the IT person later, the problem got solved. While waiting for the little miracle, two of my presentation group partners did their absolute best to help out. At one point, I was so scared that I was sipping water in rapid succession from the drinks table. I was sitting at the main table, being quiet, trying not to freak out and sipping water non-stop. This was not content anxiety but technological disability anxiety. One of my presentation partners saw this, got up from his space at the large table where we were all sitting, and tried to help again even though there was nothing that any of us could do at this point. Both of the guys in my group worked hard to get the sound to work. Although I couldn’t express nearly adequate thanks for their efforts, I guess that this is the best that I can do now. I went over time and in a moment of hypersensitivity afterwards, and sent the group an apology email for going over time. The IT guy fixed the sound, and things started, albeit ten minutes late.

The moments that mattered to me in all of this were my group members trying to help even when it appeared that there was no hope whatsoever, and then my praying a lot while sipping water that it would work out. Finally, it worked and I was extremely happy for it. My part of the presentation was long, and as-mentioned above I felt badly about that. In wanting to make sure that I didn’t step on anyone’s toes, I went a little overboard.

It was interesting to see how much of people’s personalities came out in the presentations. I’m the girl that likes the tech and likes multi-media presentations even if I’m behind the times. I also like to give people a solution that they can implement tomorrow if need be. Everyone else has their pet projects and similar things, and the evolution of the class over the course of the semester was enlightening, rather uplifting, and I learned a lot. Those were God’s core expectations for me while in Chicago. I don’t think that they are done yet, perhaps, but it was rewarding to see changes in behavior from my first crash-and-burn horrific presentation to the multi-media slash-through that felt up-to-the-second current. It was a great change.

How I feel about Chicago has also changed a lot. I went from loving it to wishing I wasn’t here or anywhere, to being given the space and opportunities to grow into where I am. I have one last paper/presentation/take-away materials final left and I’m still in love. This is an experience is never to be forgotten, but cherished for the wonderful thing that it is. If a man could make me feel as alive as this city does, that would be incredible.

I respect my classmates more than they will ever know and I care about who they are as people. As of this upcoming Thursday, I must have my work done and that is paramount to anything else besides what I need to do for Church. Priorities come in their proper forms, I hope. One friend mentioned that she read the blog and so I will return to the focus on the practical aspects of family history. My whole life has to do with various forms of public history, and so I will try to make things better for tips on how to do this seemingly simple and dynamically complex field. Till next blog, I am,

The Genealogy Doctor