Other folks have introduced themselves in this series, so I figure I should probably do that, too (particularly since my last effort at crowdsourcing house parts put the onus on you, instead of me). So here goes.
I'm a former cowgirl, but only former because I don't have a horse. I've got the saddle, but no horse to put it on. My cattle-rancher father was also deeply involved in politics, (as was my cattle ranching great grandfather, who served in Idaho's 2nd legislature as a Populist. Family legend is he sponsored Idaho's first environmental law, to keep sheep outside of a 5-mile radius from towns. Ggrandpa's bill, since he was a cattleman, was directed more at hurting sheepmen than protecting the environment, probably. They got their revenge. They beat him in the next election.) and I got my political start early. Going door to door for Gov. Cecil Andrus with Mom when I was five.
My political hero was and still is Sen. Frank Church, who I first remember for his kindness to me as a child, and as I grew, for his statesmanship, his integrity, his courage. When I went to college, I studied international relations and Soviet studies (it was still the USSR back then), largely because of the influence of Sen. Church, who was chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations committee and a strong voice for diplomacy and international cooperation. After college, I ended up working for then-Rep. Ron Wyden (D-OR) in both his district and DC offices. My most rewarding work with him was on women's health issues. One of the things we worked hardest on—getting domestic violence awareness into medical school curricula—ended up happening.
I burned out on DC, though, and came back to the west coast to resume my studies at the Jackson School of International Studies at the University of Washington. I combined a bunch of interests, designing a masters in Russian public health policy, with a focus on women's health. The most depressing topic possible in the early 1990s. Yes, back then I could read, write, and speak in Russian. I'm a little rusty now. Back then, I was a finalist for a fellowship that would have cemented my career as a Russian public health specialist. But I withdrew from consideration when it sunk in that being a Russian public health specialist would be a really depressing career.
Which left me with a shit-ton of student loans to repay. So I fell back to what I'd been doing unofficially in just about every job I'd had so far, I became an editor for the Distance Learning division of UW's extension office. I helped start the project that took all of the program's correspondence courses online. It was a massive task, during which I learned how to code HTML, but more importantly learned instructional design for the Internet: how to effectively communicate ideas and to teach using this medium. Cool stuff, which I think prepared me for my next job: this one. At least I hope so. One of the things I really want to be able to do here is take complex policy issues and make them understandable and actionable.
I started lurking here in 2003 when I needed to hear some rational thinking on Iraq, signed up in early 2004, and started commenting soon after. Which made diarying inevitable. I was totally sucked in, and thrilled to find community here. I was even more thrilled when Markos asked me to become a contributing editor in 2006, and then asked me if I wanted to quit my day job to write for him full time in 2007.
Here I am, and I've never looked back. However, if we ever get our shit together here at home, I might think about Russia blogging. Or I might move to the middle of nowhere and get a horse.
All right, your turn. Ask me anything, I'll answer if I can.