Sober PorcFest? Whooooo boy. Having spent more than my fair share of time holding down the VIP Tent with a gin and tonic in hand, I was feeling a bit of trepidation about my first alcohol-free PorcFest. Would I still have fun? Would anyone still want to hang out with me?
- I was hangover free.
- I got sufficient sleep. (Remember that time in 2010 when I was organizing, and only got six hours of sleep in a week? Yeah, me neither.)
- I took stress-free offsite trips to Polish Princess Bakery in Lancaster (croissant cheat, totes worth it!) and Just L in Littleton (where I got killer pearls, a polka dot tie for Louis, diamanté clip-on earrings, and some silk scarves for under $120).
- I made a serious attempt at hiking with Nellie at Weeks Park, thwarted only by… I want to say rain, but really, just good old fashioned laziness.
- I was compos mentis on stage, or, as John Bush put it, “You’re not shit-faced!”
For the first time since I moved to New Hampshire, PorcFest felt like a real holiday. To all the volunteers, and especially Jess and Rodger Paxton, from the bottom of my heart, THANK YOU!
I arrived with Nellie to white fluffy clouds dotted across blue skies at Roger’s Campground last Tuesday around lunchtime. After registering in the Arcade and receiving my swag bag, yellow bracelet and the most awesome PorcFest tee to date with “Hoo Wood Build the Roads to Freedom” (great work, Marcus!), I ran into Crosby, the campground owner. We chatted, catching up, both of us now having been involved with PorcFest for more than a decade.
“I’m running for Senate.”
“No kidding,” Crosby said. “Against whom?”
“I think we went to the same college around the same time.”
Me, grinning, “Got any dirt?”
Most of Tuesday was spent walking around with The Schmells, reconnecting with old friends, and making new ones–lots of newbies–exciting! Nellie and I walked past Agora Valley vendors setting up, the tantalizing smell of barbecue keeping Nellie’s snout in the air. Across the field, I could hear a CPR class in full swing. As in years past, firearm etiquette posters were stapled to trees around the campground. As this was the first year I was open carrying (go, Sober Me!), I stopped and read it. Yep, yep, yep! Later, Edi Swearingen saved my butt–well, technically, my stomach–when she generously offered a few Keto snacks when I mentioned I was hungry. Yes, my dinner did consist of an entire container of Parmesan crisps in bed!
At Noon on Wednesday, I held the first of two SoapBox Idol auditions at the Upper Picnic Tent. A handful of witty contestants showed up, and I explained the rules that have been developed over the years to try to keep things… more… restrained… “For starters, you have to keep your clothes on!” (From the year with the very happy nudist!) We were even treated to an excellent off-the-cuff rant about Dr. Who, inspired by the contestant’s Dalek t-shirt.
In the afternoon, I spoke about the work the Foundation for New Hampshire Independence is doing to encourage Granite Staters to seek more independence from the federal government. I spoke about how, in two informal polls, 42% of Granite Staters said they supported a “free NH.”
Later, at the Alt-Expo tent, I ran into Ernie and Donna Hancock of Freedom Phoenix. Afterwards, I got to sit for a little while with one of my favorite humans, Carla Mora, at her site. We had a deep and illuminating chat until our three doggos started making a combined racket, and we had to disperse. I wish I had made it back!
Thursday, I held another round of SoapBox Idol auditions, and when only a couple of people showed up, I started feeling that nervousness I do when I am expecting things to just “magically happen” instead of zealously over-planning. “You should have made flyers!” “You can’t just rest on your laurels!” “No one will come to the show!” But, on the other hand, I reminded myself, that in my quest for better health and a more balanced life, I also needed to continue to prioritize my attention, and that I shouldn’t regret focussing on my Senate campaign instead of rallying the troops for what boils down to an hour-and-a-half comedy show. If they want to come, they’ll come. If not… ACK!!!
Thursday afternoon, I gave a talk about the “Top 10 Things I Love About Living in NH.” It went something like this:
10. Majestic splendor
9. Excellent quality of living
8. Real estate is cheap enough to be able to afford a nice house (unlike NYC or San Fran)
7. Accessible legislature
6. Big cities (Boston, Portland, Montreal) just far and close enough, depending on your wants
5. Quirky 1950s tourism with great museums and festivals like the Goffstown Pumpkin Regatta
4. If you throw a protest, people will show up
3. If you get arrested, the community will have your back
2. Nose-to-tail living, meaning you can know where your food is sourced, where your water comes from, and learn how to harvest a turkey and make bone broth from scratch
1. Homemade ice cream stands!
Thursday evening heralded the arrival of my husband, Louis, escaping from work to come have fun with the rest of us. Like a cranky single mom, I handed him Nellie’s leash and said, “You’re it!”
I love our rescued Schmells to death, but she is called “Nervous Nellie” for a reason, and she and I had a few rough patches. She is scared of (in no particular order): fireworks, gunshots, things that beep, raindrops, snow plows, thunder, well, you get the picture. When she freaks out, she starts to shake and hyperventilate, and it is best to keep her calm in a quiet space, which meant she and I spent a fair amount of potential socializing time barricaded in my motel room, or sometimes just driving aimlessly around Lancaster. After someone set off some firecrackers, I spoke to a prickle of free range kids walking by, explaining how these kinds of loud sounds tend to upset some dogs. “It wasn’t us,” they said, “but we will tell the others when we see them.” Nellie and I only heard them go off one more time after that. (Then it started to rain.)
Friday morning, Louis and I joined a group of friends for a pre-ordered breakfast at Josh and Lauren’s campsite. This $25 per person sit down brunch was delish! Everything was locally sourced from farms near where they live. We started with local strawberries and basil, then scrambled farm fresh eggs with chives, homemade sausage and asparagus, and ended with coffee and toasted cinnamon buns–I ate mine; bite me! Their young children helped to serve, and also sold us some of their artworks for $1 a piece. Those two cuties cleaned up!
I have always taken the approach at PorcFest that if a kid is trying to sell me something, I will buy it. I might haggle about the price–hey, it’s a teachable moment!–but I love the notion of encouraging entrepreneurship and independence from an early age. As in years past, there was a formidable PorcuPints program for children, and my all time favorite photo is this one (right), worn by two stalwart volunteers, with their playful puns on “cat herding.” I’d also like to suggest that for next year, the “Teen Central” tent should be called “Teen (De)Central.”
At 1pm, we caught Lyn Ulbricht’s talk about her son Ross’ plight. After talking about where they are with the case (in a holding pattern as they wait for the US Supreme Court to decide on a similar 4th Amendment issue in another case), Lyn read two very powerful pieces written by Ross, one that spoke more broadly about liberty, and, as she has done in the past, one from Ross to PorcFest attendees, thanking us for our support.
My heart aches when I think of a smart and talented person like Ross Ulbricht wasting away in a maximum security prison for the rest of his life for building a website that reduced the harm caused by the War on Drugs. I do know this: if I ever end up in prison, I would want someone like Lyn at my back. Her tireless work on behalf of her son knows no bounds. I admire her for it, and know the apple did not fall far from the tree. If you want to show your support, send Ross a letter or card to let him know he is not forgotten: Ross Ulbricht, #18870-111, USP Florence – High, P.O. Box 7000, Florence, CO 81226. I know he appreciates it!
We also caught part of Mike Vine’s speech called “The Free State Project: A Spectacular Failure.” Mike was instrumental in helping to Trigger the Move, and from the title, I wasn’t quite sure what to expect, but Mike, ever the marketer, was playing a bit of bait-and-switch. Most of the talk focussed on the positive things happening in New Hampshire due to the Free State Project.
Later on Friday afternoon, I participated in a debate about “Should NH be a Country?” I took the affirmative position, and the Honorable State Representative Jess Edwards took the opposite side. Free State Project founder, Jason Sorens, a lecturer at Dartmouth College, moderated. We were each given five minutes to make opening statements, and then had the opportunity to ask each other questions. Jess, a friend, might have suckered me because he had previously expressed concern that his positions might be too “rah-rah nationalistic” for the PorcFest crowd. But, instead of making these arguments, he made the case for more states’ rights and nullification of overreaching federal laws. Since this approach falls squarely within the Foundation for New Hampshire Independence’s mission, in the end, we didn’t have much to disagree on. Jason took a count of who was Pro-Independence vs. Same-Old-Same-Old Abusive Relationship with Our Bullying Overlords, and the pro-independence side won handedly!
Not having good internet access in the mountains means you are far from the texting crowd–maddening, yes, yet, like so much of what happens at PorcFest when people are free to pursue their lives peacefully, also quite liberating. Not being plugged into social media meant I almost missed the final bracket of NHPR’s “What is Peak New Hampshire?” Twitter contest, where various NH-related things were pitted against each other until a final winner would emerge.
In earlier rounds, “Free Staters” beat out Robert Frost, the second coldest place on earth (Mt. Washington), and the Old Man in the Mountain to make it to the final round against “Live Free or Die.” Oh noes! Louis and I got into a heated conversation when we discovered this was the final bracket. “Is there a way to get everyone to vote for LFOD?” Louis asked. “If not, can we get it to 50/50, at least?” I countered. But in my heart, I knew it was out of my control, and I dreaded the Twitter Storm that would be unleashed if “Free Staters” won against our state’s most-awesome motto… So… Imagine my delight when I discovered our social media team had gracefully conceded! Read our social media maven, Mary Soren’s take. Live free or die, indeed!
Friday evening, together with judges Andre Rosa and Jeremy Kauffman, I hosted SoapBox Idol. I should not to have been so concerned about it being a flop. (Note to self: Stop worrying so much!) The Creating Communities tent was packed. All the contestants showed up, and my angst-y last minute camp-wide whisper campaign even brought out past contestants and former winners, like John Bush (he mad about banning people!), and Catherine Bleish (she mad about ladies having to shave!).
Earlier in the day, I’d asked David Friedman if he wanted to be a judge. He asked: “What is it?” When I explained SoapBox Idol was an opportunity for PorcFest attendees to rant for 3 minutes on a topic of their choice, he said, “That sounds awful!” I laughed, countering with, “It’s not! Trust me!”
One of the reasons I started SoapBox Idol seven years ago was to give voice to the ordinary people who also have something extraordinary to say about life and liberty. Each and every one of us is an ambassador for our principles, and, yes, while it is great to hear from all the fancy thought leaders, it is equally important to know what’s got peoples’ goats, to get a pulse about what people are feeling, to discover how tyranny affects their everyday lives.
Topics covered everything from “How I got arrested and charged with ‘Failure to Disperse’ for reading a sign in a window while minding my own business but standing too close to a group of cops,” to a spoof about crypto-currencies with the biting piece about the launch of “Chicken Coin.” A contestant talked about the “injustice system,” and the importance of the Innocence Project, an organization that “exonerates the wrongly convicted through DNA testing and reforms the criminal justice system to prevent future injustice.” Another spoke about the “Dangers of Normal People.” The very funny winner, Jon P., ranted about the absurd rules you find at municipal swimming pools.
On Saturday morning, we headed to town for ALL THE CARBS at Polish Princess Bakery. Okay, I overstate our fall from Keto grace: we shared a croissant and ate the crust of our quiches. Big whoop! Later, when my joints were achy, I was reminded why I now choose to live a low carb and low sugar, medium protein, high (good) fat life.
In looking over the schedule now, I regret how many excellent talks I missed. Too. Many. Incredible. Speakers. This falls in the “good problems to have” category, right? In the talks I did attend, I’d say the prevailing themes were about the dangers of the “collective” over the individual (there is no “collective”, only individuals); the dangers of fascism, racism, and nationalism (all created by a belief in “the collective,” I might add); and, quite consistently, the sentiment–which I have been saying for years–that we no longer have objective rule of law in America.
Saturday was a blur of all the shiny keynote speakers, and, as the rain had finally come, Louis and I settled in at the Pavilion to catch Ben Swann, Jeffrey Tucker, Bruce Fenton, Eric July, David Friedman, and, of course, Patrick Byrne, CEO of Overstock, crypto evangelist, school choice advocate and staunch FSP supporter. In between these talks, we broke for the group photo and the annual Bardo Farm Pig Roast, proceeds of which are donated back to the FSP. Towards the end of the day, my head was spinning from all the liberty awesomesauce! Let’s just say: When we prevail, the future will be oh-so bright and peaceful!
Let’s emphasize this peaceful aspect. The non-aggression principle (stated differently, The Golden Rule) lies at the heart of our movement. We believe hurting and bullying and forcing people to do things against their will under the banner of “the state” (the “collective”) is wrong. We believe the world needs to heal by returning to the principles of individual freedom, where you can do what you want, as long as you don’t hurt others. We believe that unless there is an actual, real life person who was harmed by your actions, there is no crime. We believe in property rights, free markets, peace, love, personal responsibility, and in building strong social bonds within our growing community, and beyond.
On a personal note, many people complimented me on my weight-loss and lifestyle changes. “You look ten years younger!” “I heard you on the Tom Woods Show; great job!” “Whatever you are doing, keep it up!” While I missed hanging out, I appreciated the positive feedback. Thank you!
I like that I am now someone who can give a speech without having to down a shot of tequila first. I like that I no longer throw up from nerves before taking to the stage. I am still nervous, and assume this will always be the case, but I am not frozen in panic, stuck in a black tunnel, literally so anxious I am unaware of what is coming out of my mouth. During my Tuesday independence talk, I even had a moment, looking out at the audience, when I thought, Wow, this is kind of fun!
I like that I am now someone who craves salad in a sea of carbs. I like that I came home and made the biggest-loaded-with-all-the-veggies meal that my body wanted and needed (thanks, Bardo CSA!). I like that I am aware of how these positive changes are positively influencing my life, and will continue to stick to them. I like how I am now someone who sets and meets goals like a boss. Like–dare I say it?–New Hampshire’s next Senator of District 20!
If you would like me to come speak at a local event in Goffstown or Manchester–I’d love to meet you!–please email me at Carla (at) Carla4NHSenate (dot) com.
Help me win! Donate today!
Tell a friend or family member in District 20 (Goffstown, Manchester Wards 3, 4, 10 & 11). Word of mouth is a powerful tool!
Thanks for your support! Let’s build a better future for all Granite Staters!