Thursday, October 30, 2008
Okay. So I waited in line for about half an hour instead of an hour or more. My ballot will be opened and counted at seven o'clock on Election Day, although how they'll all be opened at the same time is far beyond me.
I stood in line behind a tall handsome blond man about my age. He was wearing sunglasses, so it was hard to see what he was up to. We chatted like a couple of comrades. Then a man got in line behind me: fortyish, darker. There was a small feeling of camaraderie which perked up when we started talking with the young Democrat who was thanking voters for voting and handing out lists of the Democratic candidates on the ballot, as if we couldn't tell the sheep from the goats from the "(DEM)" following each of our candidates.
She was young and dark with funny hair (a brush-cut on one side and chin-length on the other) and moderate facial piercings. She showed us the tattoo on her shin, a red-and-blue sign in Uncle Sam typeface saying I VOTED. The, uh, tat was free, which was not only cool, but awesome.
At first she seemed official -- all that thanking, I suppose -- but then it occurred to us that she couldn't be official if she's so blatantly a Democrat. So the man behind me asked listeners in general why we thought there weren't any Republican young folks here, handing out literature, showing off body art, thanking the voters.
My instinct was to say because Republicans don't vote early. And you know why I think that? Because I only get Democrat propaganda in my Inbox, urging me to vote early. Yes. That finally hit me. Obama's party is spending a gazillion dollars to preach to the choir. Ditto McCain's party.
That seems odd, and yet what are the chances of my responding well to a bid from McCain? I suppose they aim at the fence-sitters whenever they spot them.
Well, the man behind me answered his own question. He said there are no Republican cheerleaders out here because Republicans all have jobs and they're at work now. The implication, of course, was that those of us standing in line right then were Democrats and out of work or at least sloughing off.
This unemployed registered Green can't argue with that, although I could almost feel the mud sliding down my face. (Sorry. It didn't occur to me till later that night that he was standing there, too ...)
"Really, though," I said, pursuing his question, "why do you think they aren't here?" He just kept repeating his they all have jobs answer, which was pissing me off, which it was calculated to do. So I decided to ignore him.
I sure know how to hurt a guy.
He turned out to be a Republican, which shattered an entire cabinet full of preconceived ideas I'd had about early voting.
Then he talked about picking up an absentee ballot for his wife. I hate to say it, but it seems logical, at first, to think that's okay. If we're all picking up forms to fill out, I'll get one for you, too. Right. But then we'd all be at home, voting our little brains out. So no. No, he can't pick up a form for his wife. Oh dear. And there she sits in the car.
I, in an heroic burst of generosity, opened the door again. "Well, where's your car?" I asked. Why, it was just down the street. The tall man in front of me said, "Go get her. We'll hold your place in line."
"No we won't," I muttered, but they either didn't hear me or pretended not to.
When they returned, the wife at least had the decency to shush him when he started making his not-joke about all the Republicans being at work.
Then the man in front of me, despite his charming smile and mysterious eyes, said he's a Republican, too. Would the outrage never end? He said he's switching sides in this election, though. "Why?" queried the comedian.
"Oh, so many reasons!" he exclaimed, and let it go at that.
After that, we got general and friendly and, after all, a good time was had.
I was concerned about my signature. There's a signature on record, and the signature on my ballot has to match that in order for my vote to count. I can't imagine being able to replicate it, but the clerk assured me that the sample I showed would pass. Whew.
On the drive home, I endangered my species by calling my friend Debby. She's waiting till Election Day to vote. She figures that even if all people assigned to her voting spot show up, it's still a short enough line. I agree. And my friend Lee said early voting is a way to prevent us from changing our minds. Mike said some of the amendments I voted for or against (depending on what the Voters' Guide at http://www.stonewallpinellas.org/ said) had just been removed from the ballot, so I voted needlessly on them.
I guess I voted early because my Inbox is full of nudges to do so. And it seemed historic. When I'm in The Home, we'll be talking about it, rocking and spitting. Oh yeah. Remember ought-eight? I voted early. You?
Wednesday, October 29, 2008
Did you get the email from Gov. Crist about the extended early voting hours? That's fine. I tried to do it the other day, but the line was more than a block long, and they weren't standing single-file, either. The thing is, I don't even know WHY there's early voting or WHY Obama wants me to do it. I just know THAT. I think I've been given the idea that my vote will somehow count more if it's early. I mean, there's a weaker chance of my vote being lost or crumpled or erased or tucked under a couch cushion if it's early. Is that possible? Is that why we're supposed to vote early?
Interestingly, you Republicans (and you know who you are) don't seem to be interested in voting early -- just often. Heh. Heh. A little Election Year humor here ...
I know early voting started in 2005 and that's all I know about it. That's not really handy information, is it?
Fine. Then let's move back to the Festival of Reading, where I saw, but managed to avoid meeting, The World's Youngest Writer. Yeah. The poor thing appeared to be maybe seventeen. Her dad and uncle were accosting everyone who walked by, forcing a bookmark on them. Come on, guys. This is the Festival of Reading. We're a little more gentile here. It's not a carnival with a freak show. Sit back, like we graciously did, and tacitly offer red-and-white peppermint candies. Don't hawk, for goodness sake!
I couldn't stand the lie of it. When I first read the bookmark, I yelped out to the guy, "You can't say that! You can't know it's the world's youngest writer! I'm typesetting a book right now by a nine-year-old!"
Then I remembered that I was there under the aegis of an elegant, restrained (occasionally) woman, so I back-pedaled. I smiled and made a remark about the World Series which is open only to United States ball clubs. I was pretty sure there weren't any Rays fans listening.
I know there are Rays fans reading, though, so now, for the first time ever, it's The World's Youngest DOUBLE Back-Pedaler!
Interesting, too, that I'd made a poster for our booth: The PERFECT Holiday Gift. I don't mind claiming perfection, which cannot be proved, but I object to the youngest, which can.
Here's a picture of Mittens sitting in a small basket full of newspaper pulled into strips for my papier-mache projects. Well, about a third of her is sitting the basket. Cats like to be in things, even if they don't fit. She reminds me of me and my pedal-pushers ...
Saturday, October 25, 2008
I can't say I like the name of the event. It sounds awfully boisterous for the sedate action of reading.
I'll be there with Liz Armstrong and her daughter Anne Fussell and the book The Little Bastard Won't Bite ... and everything else your pet sitter needs to know. I tried to upload the poster I made, telling all who view it that the book is the perfect holiday gift. Alas. It's too big to upload. Or something. So just close your eyes and envision the perfect holiday gift in the form of The Little Bastard Won't Bite ...
Years and years ago, I went to my friend Pam's partment and read a Stephen King short story while she and our friend Jim watched some football game. When it was over, they cooked a meal, and while they finished off the dessert I brought, I read King's short story to them, about quitting smoking. They were still smoking. I had attained that spiritual superiority that calls for the cessation of smoking. It was the first time I'd read out loud to adults. I couldn't believe the great reception. We all loved it.
One of my fondest fantasies is to gather with dear friends in a cozy house in mid-December, and take turns reading aloud from A Christmas Carol. I think it would take about three hours, not counting breaks for cocoa and cookies. Those who don't like to read would be there, enjoying being read to, dangling prepositions getting a special holiday dispensation.
But back to Pam and Jim ... Half a year later, when they moved into a whole house with a third person and had a house warming, I brought along that same book. We used one of the bedrooms, with people cluttered up on the floor, listening while I read. If someone bumbled into the room, s/he was shushed. It was amazing and wonderful.
Surely "amazing" and "wonderful" sound like a festival? Well, then, party on, all ye rowdy readers!
Thursday, October 23, 2008
One cover is a nearly naked MEGAN FOX: Earth's Hottest Girl. The top banner refers to football college and an exciting article inside is entitled, "Is Your Girl Cheating?"
The other issue has an equally almost-nude photo of STACEY KEIBLER, who Gets Hollywood in a Headlock. She appears to be fondling her own, um, private parts, but that can't be true, since this is a PUBLIC magazine cover.
Both women ... er, girls? ... have the same haircut. It's long shaggy hair parted too far on the right, so it falls into their eyes. (See? if you're too far to the right, you go blind!) They have the same skin color, but one's a blonde and one's a brunette. And one has eye makeup like Kathy Drew, a classmate, wore in seventh grade. Kathy Drew could also chew her toenails, by the way. I always thought that was great. I still do, and I really think it's great if she can still do it.
In my narrow, pissed-off little mind, this Maxim is basically pornography and I am incensed.
Because of monetary donations I've made and magazines I have subscribed to, some lists out there think I'm a black woman. That's fine. It's not true, but it's not offensive. It doesn't bother me, so I won't take the time to disabuse them.
For a year, I got my Ms. magazine along with Billy Graham's mouthpiece ... um ... whatever it was. Ah! Decision. My poor father would have loved for me to be a Christian, and he thought this magazine would help. I didn't ever develop the ability to go against him head-on, so I bought him a gift subscription to Grapevine, the monthly "AA Meeting in Print." Tit for tat. He at least had the courage to tell me to my face that I needn't renew the subscription.
The most fun, though, came from a co-worker who is now on The Other Side. He'd send junkmail with the correct address but faux names. For instance, when Jeanne got a hip replacement, I started getting stuff for Jeanne Withthefakehip. One of my supervisors -- and they were legion -- used to squeal like a Pooh character, so I got mail addressed to Dave Whomakestiggernoises. Frank Whoyouyelledat was also a recipient of mail at my place, along with Gocart Craig, Carl Isacomposer, Mike Sitsbymike, Misquote Laurie, and Sam Dropsthepineapple.
I feared my female mail carrier would hate me, delivering all these clearly bogus pieces of junk, but she said it was a ball. She'd shout out the names in the sorting room and everyone enjoyed our dear, dead Carl's jokes.
Monday, October 20, 2008
I had no idea that when it's clear in the ninth inning that the home team has won, the game just quits. I'm still appalled by that. I mean, the Red Sox got to play nine innings. We only got to play eight. How can that be fair? Well, I agreed with myself (with whom I was having this conversation) that it would be a glum Boston, indeed, who would play against the already victorious Tampa Bay, but still ...
I later argued with Mike about it in the car. A world record could have been established in that ninth inning! Mike conceded that a personal record could have been beaten.
The score could have doubled in that time.
We could have watched a home run.
If, as the dropping of the bottom of the ninth when the home team wins suggests, it's only the winning or the losing that counts, then why are scores even announced? Why don't they just say A beat B? There's obviously no need to say A trounced B because, clearly, the numbers don't matter because if they did, the winning team would be allowed to have its ninth inning.
Have I made my stance clear? You can't have it both ways. Either the score matters or it doesn't.
Mike said the only thing that was clear was that no other car was housing a conversation this ridiculous, "and there are a LOT of cars!"
As we walked to the dome to watch this nine-innings-for-them, only-eight-for-us game, two sets of twentysomething couples merged onto the sidewalk. One man said, "Man! Game Seven's gonna be somethin', huh?"
"What flavor is this gum?" one of the women asked.
I noticed that there weren't many black people, and I wonder why.
I wondered how St. Anthony's Hospital could afford to advertise here. And why.
I wondered a LOT about Raymond, the mascot. First of all, what kind of critter is Raymond? All I could tell was that he has big hair. I couldn't connect him with "Ray." He's too fat to be a Sun Ray and too tall and humanoid to be a Sting Ray. He's too dull to be a Ray of Hope. We know he's not a Devil Ray because we by god are just the Rays now.
And does anyone really buy that pre-packaged cotton candy? Does it sell, or does someone just drag around the same huge wads of nasty-colored spun sugar jammed into transparent bags on sticks? Is pre-packaged cotton candy like fruitcake in that sense? Fresh cotton candy is a delight, as I recall, but maybe only if you're under twelve.
Furthermore, if popcorn is for sale at games, how come I've never smelled it? The song clearly calls for it.
I spent a lot of time just gazing around at all the shouting mouths, the pumping fists, the distended neck veins. It was pretty impressive, the passion. Impressive and, to me, completely cryptic.
At least I started understanding the cowbell thing. Well, I confess that I was paying attention to the Cowbell Etiquette Lesson on the big screen. When the opponent has two strikes, we're to rise up clanging. Fairly often, a Sox man would step back to insist upon quiet while he bat. We Rays folk would boo him for his unwillingness to submit to our attempt to rattle him. It doesn't rattle our pitcher. Our noise, obviously, was honed to a laser point at the batter only.
Am I supposed to say "A Sox"? A Sox would step back? See, sports just makes language hard. Or is it sports make it hard?
I have a friend who was moved to tears by the TV reporting of this game. I was moved when B.K. Jackson, a seventeen-year-old from Boston, played the national anthem on a tenor sax. It was hot.
I experienced a couple of extremes. The ladies' room was the filthiest I've ever seen anywhere. Normally, though, there are attendants, so it looks as if someone called in sick last night.
The french fries were the best I've ever had. They tasted like fresh potatoes, dug from the cool damp earth that very morning. Yay for potatoes!
I'm impressed with the Rays' fashion developer. I'd say there were at least twenty different styles of Rays shirts. If I'd thought to bring a pad and pen, I'd have actually counted the variety (nothing OCD here). At the top of this page, you'll see a shirt I made for a game that Mike held out to me and then snatched away and gave to someone else.
Now, I wonder why he'd do that ...
Sunday, October 19, 2008
So it's a pretty mutual relationship: He gets the free expert, she gets the free advertising. I was up for the English Expert. I emailed Jon to tell him of my interest, saying I wouldn't be available till Monday because of Circus McGurkis.
To my surprise, Jon called that very day, Thursday. He wanted to make sure I knew how the thing worked. He made a big point to say that when I'm scheduled for the filming of my bits, I'd better not back out, since the studio space and crew were already paid for by then. Fine. But I'm all about Circus right now.
He called again that night to arrange a nine o'clock phone appointment with Carrie, who'd have to interview me, too, to make sure I'm right for this, even though he's convinced I am.
That did make me pause. How does one decide who's an expert? At first, this had seemed like You're an expert if you say you are, which is pretty scary. On the other hand, if Carrie can tell an expert from a non-expert, maybe she should do all the filming. In any case, I agreed to the phone appointment.
I was here at my desk at nine, waiting for the call. I can spend hours here, puttering around, so the waiting wasn't a burden at all, except that I still had Circus things to do. I didn't really want to get started on them till I got the call. I read a cousin's work and got nicely involved.
At eleven o'clock, I decided to do laundry and some errands. It was hard to be too indignant about Carrie not calling because I don't even know these people. How could I be surprised?
Now, laundry is a huge burden in my life. Every now and then, I've had a washer and dryer in my very house and oh! what a pleasure laundry is then! But mostly, I've had to make the sullen trip to a grubby Laundromat full of sticky children and smokers, machines carrying rust and dust and filth beyond description (thank god!). Bugs are being chopped up in the ceiling fans. Clumps of things are in the dryers, usually sticky, always ominous. Copies of Awake are part of the floating world that swirls just above the floor: bug parts, dryer lint, dryer sheets, tiny socks, cigarette butts.
Perhaps I exaggerate. Surely I digress.
After I popped the clothes into the machines, I headed out for the bookstore. Halfway there, Carrie called. She was brisk, not to say curt. She and I had some things to talk about before she went ahead and scheduled studio time. Then she repeated Jon's warning about never ever canceling studio time. Talking almost too fast to be understood, she continued, but I was distracted by, um, driving. When she took a breath -- and let me state here that I was surprised and glad she even required breath -- I told her I was in traffic. That meant nothing to her, so I interrupted her to say I didn't want to drive and talk any more. Her reply was that it would only take about ten minutes.
I told her I had been expecting her call at nine, and her only reply was to snap, "We're very busy so we're running behind."
But I parked while she continued her speed-rap. She's very emphatic. She "drives home" every point; she doesn't just talk. I turned off my car and heard a horrendous noise coming from it. It was a horrifying mating of a honk and a screech. It shook the car. I said into the phone, "Wait, Carrie!"
A woman in the car next to me was just as surprised and dismayed as I. She clearly thought it was her car, too. We yelled across the noise a couple of times and then realized it was a tractor trailer in the throes of something unimaginable.
I went back to the phone call and Carrie was still talking. I'm thinking you don't need to be an Active Listener to encourage her.
She wanted me to tell her when my errands would be over, so we could continue the lecture ... er, conversation. I simply wasn't up to trying to figure that out -- plus what's to say she'd make that appointment? -- so I was sort of spluttering when she interjected that there are others who want the non-paying job of English Expert.
Whoa. A threat.
In a sweet, calm voice, I told her to go ahead and contact the next person on their list. And oooh! didn't that feel good! It seemed like a big revelation: You can't bully me.
While I was folding the clothes, Jon called. He was all squealy like someone on a sit-com. "What happened? I thought you were SO RIGHT for us! I was soooo looking forward to meeting you!" I agreed to call him when I got home, but when I got home, I realized -- from the other three conversations I'd had with him -- that he wouldn't listen. The first time he'd called, he was also answering other calls and looking around, all fluttery, for a plug for his laptop. He had made the call, but he wasn't prepared for it. So instead of a call, I sent him an email. I reminded him that my initial email had said I wasn't available till Monday. I apologized (!) for not enforcing it. I said he'd hear from me on Monday. He wrote back and said they didn't want me to DO anything till Monday. They just wanted to set it up. I suppose he could have misunderstood the word "unavailable."
I've decided to blow off this enormously valuable opportunity. I simply don't need to work with jerks, which rhymes with cerks, which bring us to Circus McGurkis.
I had a really good time. I made less money than last year by about thirty-five bucks, the cost of the space, but I saw lots of people I wanted to see. My only regret was that while I saw people I knew, I didn't have much time to hang out with them. Well, I was working, after all, even if it didn't feel like work. As usual, I got a lot of comments on my car. What's unusual is that I got a phone call before the show was even over, from a woman who wants me to paint just the cab of her truck. Yay!
I could barely walk by the end of the day. That is, alas, not hyperbole. My feet are okay this morning, but my back is really sore. I'd like to say I'm too old for this nonsense, but I really enjoy it, so I won't say it.
Thursday, October 16, 2008
And there are those absolutely cryptic bumper stickers that came out right after we invaded Iraq (but not for their oil, of course, and who's this we, Paleface?). The Power of Pride, the stickers said. Huh? Well, it had red and white stripes, by god, so you know it's got to be good ... er, right.
There are the pride parades, too, giving our gay and lesbian brothers and sisters a forum for speaking out and coming out, and for offending the righteous right even more than usual.
Okay. Fine. Whatever. I'm tired and I'm distracted by getting ready for Circus McGurkis. But did you hear the presidential debate last night? I didn't mean to. As most of you know, I eschew The Media, and if that makes me a glum and boring dinner partner, so be it. There's always Key Lime Pie. I was innocently driving home in my car when I carelessly turned on the radio, thinking to get some classical or jazz. Instead, I got incensed.
I heard McCain talking about how proud he was of Palin. He said it half a dozen times. "I'm so proud of her for ..."
Really, now, can you hear Obama saying, "I'm so proud of Joe for his stance on Iraq"? Of course not. He's not an idiot.
Being proud of someone usually involves a hierarchy. A father is proud of his daughter. When he's proud of his wife, who should be a peer, it's a little patronizing, but at least there's usually some affection. I don't doubt McCain has affection for Palin (which further proves he'd be an unfit president), but he shouldn't be patting The Little Woman on the head and being proud of her.
I wonder if you other recovering alcoholics feel the same way about this. Don't you just hate it when someone who has nothing to do with your sobriety -- a shrink, an aunt, a co-worker -- says, "I'm so proud of you!" Who asked ya'?
McCain was just being sexist and doesn't even know it and so he needs to be slapped. I've actually wondered if it's the Democrats who somehow managed to get Palin to run with McCain. Hey. It could be a movie! Runs with Wolves.
* * *
In the meantime, Circus McGurkis (http://www.circusmcgurkis.org/) is Saturday at Lake Vista Park from ten to four. It's a project of the Religious Society of Friends, the Quakers. No, Mike. They don't make the oatmeal. If you want to float in a sea of Obama supporters, you'll love Circus. If not, you still have the tie-dye, the drum circles, the atheists, the nudists. I always like the Florida Association of Midwives. I went to a special meeting of theirs years ago because Alice Walker was the guest speaker. Wow, huh? In fact, here I am, gushing at her and there she is, wishing she were back in her hotel room. She's the first writer I ever wrote a fan letter to and the first one who wrote back. I believe I just dangled a preposition, but if that's all I'm dangling, I count myself lucky.
For you locals, then, I'll see you Saturday. For my nephew in New York and my cousin in Kentucky, you'd better leave now.
If you haven't done it yet, sing The Name Song using Obama for the name. It's perky. It's fun. It'll cheer you up. Everybody now! 'Bama, 'Bama, Obama, bonana fana fo fama, fee fi mo Mama -- 'Bama!
Now just the girls!
Monday, October 6, 2008
But October is a close second. October's Bright Blue Weather. Apparently, that was part of a poem my mother learned in school, but that one line -- partial line? -- is all that came to my generation. Beautiful. The days are sunny and brisk in the north. It's invigorating. Down here, of course, there are seasonal differences. It's just difficult to actually see them. I believe in them the way I believe in reincarnation: on faith only.
So, for me, October was just about weather. That was before I found a site on the internet listing all the other excitement that October brings. I'm only going to name a few of the events that make this month so stimulating. You'll note that some are national and some are not. Someone wiser than I knows why.
- Adopt A Shelter Dog Month
- Antidepressant Death Awareness Month
- Celebrate Sun-Dried Tomatoes Month (hyphen mine)
- Church Library Month (I started a church library at Gloria Dei Lutheran Church, Missouri Synod, in Minnesota in the young seventies)
- National Bake and Decorate Month (this one's for Palin)
- National Sarcastic Awareness Month (this one's for Michele)
- Spinach Lovers Month (this one's for Popeye)
- Squirrel Awareness Month (this one's for Liz and Annie)
- National Breast Cancer Awareness Month (this one's for Mike)
Yeah, that last one makes me crazy: National Breast Cancer Awareness Month. If you've ever been in public with me when someone's Running For The Breasts or Collecting Money For The Breasts or even just Wearing A Tee Shirt For The Breasts, I apologize. I tend to, um, rant to the poor women offering pink ribbons.
It's just that breast cancer is the Number Four or even Number Five killer of women in the United States, depending on your source, but very few women seem to know that. We're all pretty sure that it must be breast cancer. I mean, that's the one we hear about, right? That's the one that brought back the color pink: It's not just for six-year-olds anymore.
Don't misunderstand me, I'm all for the cure, although searching for the cause and preventing it might be a good idea, too. Nah. Pharmaceutical companies might not like that. I don't want to lose a breast. Nor do I want to wear a tee shirt my friend saw. It says: GOT BREASTS? Jeeze. It apparently was for National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, too, but damn! a little sensitivity over here, please!
The truth is that the Number One killer of women -- which only thirteen percent of us know -- is heart disease. Right. You knew that. You just forgot about it. All that talk about breasts and pink, all those healthy young things Jiggling For The Cure kind of distracted you. I know.
So here are the numbers according to the Center for Disease Control and the American Cancer Society. My source is only from 2005 but the figures were "reviewed" in 2007.
- Heart Disease kills 329,000 women a year
- Stroke -- 87,000 ... that's a long way from Number One, isn't it?
- Lung Cancer -- 73,000
- COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease) -- 68,000
- Breast Cancer -- 40,000
Some lists lump all cancers together and some put stroke with heart disease. My main point, though, is that breast cancer is not the Number One killer of women, so that ought to be part of the awareness in this bright blue month.
It's not that I'm belittling breast cancer, but I wonder how many women are ignoring heart disease, thinking that breast cancer's the big scary thing.
There was a whiteboard announcement at my gym: Save the Ta Ta's!!! (unnecessary apostrophe and excessive exclamation points theirs). Neither the other exerciser nor the gym's clerk knew what ta tas were. And they certainly didn't know that Breast Cancer is Number Four. If the Number Four killer were uterine cancer, I wonder what the slogan would be ...
When my buddy Mike sees women all lined up to Run For The Cure, he wails, "Why does no one run for the prostate?" I think it's a good idea, even though I wouldn't know a prostate if it ran up and kicked me in the ta tas. Still, think of the ribbons we could sell! They'd be blue, of course, and we'd have to hang them upside down ...