Kirsten Gillibrand essay I wrote for Lynn Stegner’s creative memoir course, 2019

Twenty three hours after meeting the next president of the United States and I am still buzzing. Minus five or six hours of sleep and rest. When I met Kirsten Gillibrand — we call her “Tina” — she said nice to see you, or see you again, as if we had met. I played along — I was wearing a name tag — but later, when I got a second crack at her —that’s the nature of these things — she is a U. S. Senator from New York — she is running for president — to become the first female POTUS — would there be special acronym for that — so in these rooms — there were about 75 people, or 88 — feel me? — at the home of our mutual friend the author Kate Phillips of Burlingame (“White Rabbit” — actually when I said she should meet Lynn Stegner or take the course, for help with the memoir she said she’s finding tough sledding, she was taken aback, a graceful aback — Kate is a very classy lady — I said to her husband the financier or former financier money guy not specified a Princeton ’91 to her Dartmouth ’88 — oh she’s an older woman! I said “Can you tell I ADORE your wife? —and he said a bit too “feeling me”, “Yes” she said, “Take the course? I could teach the course!” and i said “Or, reach out… correspond…” — in these types of meets and greets and $500 plates of really pretty good chicken cutlets and mushroom risotto and a wee bit of Chardonnay — a super power lunch — think “Wonder Woman” or, as I put in later than night or earlier today, to the gossip columnist Leah Garchik —she seems like a cross between Max Fischer (Jason Schwartzman) of “Rushmore’ and Elle Something (Reese Witherspoon) of “Legally Blonde” —I’ll explain later, or hope so — Lord willing and the creek don’t rise or the Mac don’t quit — you try to talk in little bursts of meaning — it’s a very odd social ritual that I am only so-so exposed to — because if you try to say something too involved, or convoluted — and look at me — this is how i talk — the aid or handler or hostess even will grab her by the arm and whisk her off to the next person or someone more important. It’s cool. No offense taken.
But I did get a second crack at her — unless I already said that — I did get a second helping of “our Miss Tina” — Kirsten Gillibrand, Democrat from New York — and I just caught on this morning that it’s a soft “G” more like a “j” — “jill uh brand — like Jack and Jill — was known at Dartmouth as Tina Rutnick, that’s her maiden named. She married a Gillibrand —she calls him “Bunny?” — not sure about that? — and this time I said, “Tina, I don’t think we’ve met before, but it’s so nice to finally meet you!” and then I got a third chance and even more “dish” a bit later – -I was the last to leave actually, or nearly — and a selfie and I was the guy who posed the six-shot, the money shot as it were — they need to get 65,000 sixty five thousand voters to donate, our hostess I think said, in order to be in the televised debate forthcoming in the primary.
Friday I met a woman running for President of the United States, Kirstin Gillibrand, Senator of New York and my Dartmouth school mate, and I could not be more impressed. Ok, so normally, about 95 percent of the time, or 19 out of every 20 times I recognize someone and go up to them and re-introduce myself, it is very rare that someone spots me first or I really don’t recall them. I’m pretty good with names and faces, and I am almost weirdly always on the lookout for such.
And I was wearing a name tag so maybe she put the name to something she knows or someone she had met at Dartmouth or more recently. There is another Mark Weiss, a Mark S. Weiss to my Mark B. Weiss, three years ahead of me, an ’83, in Sig Ep, they did or did not call him “Sink” or just once as a joke, or for my benefit — Dartmouth is like that, nicknames, quite often quite not suitable for prime time — sometimes quite clever — Mark S. Weiss is a real estate broker in New York City in fact last year he won an award as the top broker for real estate industry — he engineered or master-minded a three way swap of land between a hospital and a museum and a building full of other high powered real estate brokers, I think — I’m actually only Mark Weiss #4 or #5 in the music business — number one is a photographer, he shot Guns and Roses – -number two is a ticketing guy — three is a jazz singer or a dentist who scats, Dr. Scat and four is probably this kid in San Diego in a harder rocking band, 3 v 1, ThreeAgainstOne. But actually if it was merely a name she saw on a list or something she might not have said hi like we’ve seen each other. Brian Gaul, Brian X Gaul Xavier my freshman roommate from DC and a DC insider sort of is the one I credit with giving me the line I use quite a bit or too much “Nice to see you” which can work either way or indicates at worst that you have forgotten if you’ve met before or not.
The most likely thing, and I did tell this at the event, I was there about 3 hours and like I said or I did write to Leah Garchik “I’m walking or driving on a cloud” all afternoon and until about 2 in the morning – whereas I’m trying to crank this out — this memoir “Tina and I”, “Tina In It To Win it’ — I actually already published that line on my blog, with the photo, the 6, the girls in her six, the sisters in the 6, her 6 — in an hour at a Cafe, my cafe, Coupa Cafe, in fact I sat at this exact table, its a group table, at the back, in the back the lighting is better, I often read newspapers, actual newsprint not screens, or books, or I stack them on a table and never get to them, but today it is moot cuz i’m on the mack — Mac — yeah, quite often I stack about 20 hours of work then get zero done because I befriend or chat at least or bother the person next to me, for an hour — the author Meredith Hagedorn called me “the cafe wizard — she wrote about the privatization of the military and the villain Eric Prince who is the brother of Betsy DeVos the enemy of education / secretary — the most likely thing, the case where I met for the first time then woman running for President — is that it is like — as I was saying — to this tall guy, who was a ’96, ie younger – -I am two years ahead of Tina Kirsten Gillibrand at Dartmouth, meaning we overlapped for two years and have some mutual friends — from, he was, Cornell Law I think — I think he co-hosted the event with the Katie Phillips Michael Rosses — and his wife who is Chinese and spunky and a partner at a powerful firm that flew her out here, to run this office — Kirstin Gillibrand was a Wall Street lawyer for 10 years before moving back to upstate or rural New York —Albany — there’s a lot of lawyers in her camp — he said he worked for Tsongas in 1992 the year I said I worked for Jerry Brown for President —and I said I suggested a non-starter “Brown-Tsongas” ticket or team – I wrote to an address for Tsongas I got from the Dartmouth book — they used to give each or us a book with each other’s addresses — this is before the internet — I told the story of how I was living in San Francisco — if you excuse the digression — and pulled into the garage of my building but let the radio run because I was really into what the guy was saying and then the announcer says “We are talking to Jerry Brown, who is appearing a Marina Middle School” which was, like, (Don’t say “,like,”) four blocks from me and two hours, so I went to a Jerry Brown event when he was running for president and he literally picked me out of the crowd, pointed at me, afterwards, as people were milling around, a circle of people, and said “This guy has a lot of energy, he should come work for us!” So I did, although my main contribution is that I helped me his campaign office from his home in the Firehouse on Washington —across the street from my cousin or my Dad’s cousin actually — to a space in the Marina because I had a truck. That and I ghost-wrote a couple of thank you notes for the woman running that office, because I was a writer and a journalist and an ad guy.
I’m saying that yesterday, Friday – -it was the 8th of March in 2019 – -I was in rare form, in a great mood, very excited for this event and maybe Kirstin Gillibrand could feel that and gave me the benefit of the doubt, the upgrade and greeted me like she knew me. Dartmouth people are like that, very clubby and after four years together or two in this case, we do sort of meld together into a super-being. A Green blob or green wave. Super-organism. I did actually get invited to be on the Dartmouth SubCommittee or something, that meets once a month or will: you have to ask 10 people to give to the campaign, I left wanting to pledge 10 people giving at the max, which is twenty eight hundred dollars, this was a 500 dollar per plate lunch, the most I’ve ever given to a campaign – I gave 586, like my class, and told her that, and she nodded — we are peers but there is also always a wee bit of rivalry between close classes — plus of course the pecking order.
But as I thought about it, before bed, rising, while watching and not watching Colbert and Rushmore and Legally Blond, maybe she remembers me as the assignment editor or Literary Director or reporter training — which is how I know or knew Kate — but I don’t remember her. She says that besides being captain of the squash team she also shot photos sports photos maybe beyond her own team for the D (The Daily Dartmouth); and in fact, I had brought my “bound volume” to the event, I have a picture of Kirsten Gillibrand flipping thru it briefly, in addition to our selfie and several candids I took of her talking or posing with others for their selfies.
It’s also possible I knew her from KKG, Kappa Kappa Gamma. I have two stories about that house and me, one sort of positive and one rather embarrassing. I started thinking, and composing, what Terry and I call “typing in my head” about two women I knew slightly 30 years ago.
Tina is in it to win it.
A Hundred Years of Tina-tude.
Actually I am hoping for 1,000 hours. Either 1,000 hours straight in time, on the clock: like this is 24 hours including sleep, perchance to dream, “ladies and gentlemen… the next president”… “bull in the pen” by Dessa…and I do have to GO.
Or indeed a thousand hours between now and the vote, or until she concedes and the bubble bursts. As it has for every politician I’ve every been excited about. Maybe it’s a thousand hours including most of it in my head, on my blog. I could start a blog about the campaing. I have a notebook in my lap. Hand note book, not my notebook computer. My mac. I want to solicit 10 people for a gift and mention this to 100 people. I’m on close to 10 already. I should log them. Or better would be 1,000 hours of actual work. As a volunteer.
I said to Kate and a few others, near the end. Thank you for having us. You have literally changed the world.
Word. (Words).

About markweiss86

Mark Weiss, founder of Plastic Alto blog, is a concert promoter and artist manager in Palo Alto, as Earthwise Productions, with background as journalist, advertising copywriter, book store returns desk, college radio producer, city council and commissions candidate, high school basketball player, and blogger; he also sang in local choir, fronts an Allen Ginsberg tribute Beat Hotel Rm 32 Reads 'Howl' and owns a couple musical instruments he cannot play
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