Night time. Senators leave in groups, out through the bright wings into the streets. Thus begins the many weeks of legislative dinners and receptions.
I am in my office. This is novel. I have never had an office before. I always loved working on the floor. I loved having others around me working at their desks. We mixed, joked, got beyond the hard politics.
In the Senate we all have offices now and, if you know where these are, you can find us there. It could be a good thing. But I worry a bit that it will isolate us more, that the three Senate office areas down here behind the committee rooms keep us a bit segregated.
The 70 house members have cubicles, not offices, also on the "garden level" off their underground wing. Some are lovely, others are just that, temporary divided cubicles in a virtually windowless back room. For this reason, and because I'm sure many still like the camaraderie of working next to each other on the floor, I suspect a good set of Representatives will still work at their rows of desks in the chamber. I don't know if this is true of the House but the Senate floor is cold now and though the historic red curtains give it a warmer feel, compared to the old courthouse it seems so huge, tall and formal. My office is not quite as beautiful but far more homey to work in. In fact, since I do not have a window, I brought a disco ball and it throws wonderful patterns of light on the walls and ceiling in the low lit room.
I will hold my first office hours Friday the 15th, 1 pm to 3 pm. In two weeks I'll start earlier so people can visit me on their lunch hour. We'll see how it works. My plan is for every other Friday and then a few Tuesdays as well 4 to 6 so people can come after work. You will be able to go to my new web site soon and see a schedule.
Having an office hopefully means I have a place where people will visit and feel comfortable. I have hot tea and lots of chairs. Like others I'm settling in to this space a bit. Four of us Democrats are tucked away behind double doors at the base of the capitol's 8th Street West underground wing. Don't give up in looking for us. All the Committee Chairs and a few others are in suites behind the row of smaller committee rooms. You will find the door at the base of the short set of stairs that leads back into the old capitol and the new visitors center.
At the top of that short set of stairs, near the old vaults where we stowed the lobbyists away, you will find two more sets of Senator's offices. Don't be intimidated, we are back in these areas, just a little bit harder to find.