Retain your complaining rights! A “nag you to vote” post featuring Alice Cooper, Mom’s 3¢ postage stamp, Tuki & Ward 201

 

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This display is currently up in my library (minus the book on the left, which got borrowed and replaced with one about the Bill of Rights). The 3¢ stamp is real. I scanned and enlarged the image in the service of democracy.  I found it in a packet of stamps Mom (z”l) bought and never used. (Thanks, Mom!)

I was in the middle of an anxiety dream involving my mother, peanut sauce and Wales when the sound of a door opening jarred me awake.

It was Sweetheart, with our morning coffees.

After I attempted to describe the dream (Sweetheart: “Peanut stew? That sounds terrible!”), I said, “It’s Election Day!”

Then, I started to sing. “Electehhhhhhhd……Selectehhhhhhed…….Hallelujah……..”

Sweetheart just looked at me. After more than a decade together, we’re pretty used to each other’s quirks. One of mine is breaking out in song. Sometimes before coffee.

“Alice Cooper!!” I said. “You’ve never heard ‘Elected?’ ”

Sweetheart is a metalhead, so even though I was in eighth grade when I bought “School’s Out,” and “Billion Dollar Babies” (“Elected is on the latter) mostly because I had a slight crush on Lee Rubin and he was all about Alice Cooper, I was a little surprised he hadn’t heard it. But then I remembered that he’d been in second grade back then, an automatic youth-vote-pass situation.

Getting back to that crush, it turned out to be a good thing, because those were albums to which I would not have otherwise been exposed. Rolling Stone hated both albums.  I didn’t and it broadened my musical horizons. (The crush ran its course, and LR was never the wiser.)

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Tuki (z”l) was a gentle soul in a dog suit. She died three years shy of being old enough to vote, but she always loved to come to the polls and make sure I selected the right candidates.

In the kitchen, the current non-voting dog roamed about. I made Sweetheart a hummus, olive & lettuce sandwich after cuing up two versions of the song, a live version Alice performed on Jimmy Kimmel from 2016 and the original studio recording.

For the more musical-theater inclined, Randy Rainbow (who we saw live this past Friday when he toured Flyover Country – thanks, Randy!) dropped a new voter-encouragement tune last night. The man is a genius at lyrics and also, clearly, a time-management god.

I have not written any songs by which to vote, but I do have some encouraging pictures.

It’s 6:49 a.m. and the polls open in 11 minutes……gotta run.

POSTSCRIPT@ 7:11 am: I was Voter #4. There was a line of about five people behind me; a man was registering on-site. That’s more mid-term activity than I’ve seen at my sleepy polling place in the 18 years I’ve voted there!

POSTSCRIPT@5:26 pm: Sweetheart sent me a text after he voted at 4. “199. They cheered for 200!” So I stopped by the polls on my way home from Unlearning Racism class. Voter #238 had just slid his ballot into the box; an observer from the Democratic Party of Wisconsin was sitting in the corner & a steady stream of voters was cycling through the school library-turned-polling room. The chief poll worker was ecstatic, and so am I.

“I think we’re going to hit 50 percent!” she said.

I told her I will stop by after my MIRACLE (Mental Wellness in the Urban Church) meeting and see how many more people had voted. Because I talked to the election observer, I had to sign the sheet that said I was observing. There was a spot to indicate who I was representing.

I wrote, “My neighborhood!”

POSTSCRIPT@8:07 pm: At 7:45, Voter 276 was registering. As I walked out and toward my car, a man was getting out of the leopard-print-covered seat of his late-model Camry.

“Are they still open?” he said.

“Yes!” I answered, “You’re #277!”

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Me, at the August primary election, doing my civic duty and getting to cross “being the first one at the polls to vote” off my bucket list. I was going to try to reprise it 18 minutes after writing this caption. It didn’t happen. Which is a win for the rest of us.

 

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Cutest couple at the polls.

Accidental landlording & purposeful librarianship: a dispatch from the busy zone with a reminder to VOTE TUESDAY!

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Five years ago, my pal Molly and her husband Richard flew in from New York to visit her parents, “Mel” (z”l) and “Sally.” It was their first visit after M&S moved into “Old People Harvard,” the independent and assisted-living community where Mom had been living for two years.

It was a great gift to Mom (z”l). She’d moved from her community six states away, a place where she had deep roots and was both valued and valuable.  It was a courageous move on several counts: facing that Parkinson’s disease was making it impossible for her to maintain her independence and leaping into an unknown social scene.

Mel & Sally’s move wasn’t as easy as Mom’s had been. They were uncertain about how things would be. Molly had flown out to help reassure them. We met for lunch in the dining room at Old People Harvard. There, Mom was able to be the old hand, telling and kvelling to Mel & Sally about how happy she was there, how much there was to do and the truth about the adjustments she’d had – and been able – to make. It meant a great deal to her to be able to be of service, and the three of them forged a lifelong friendship.

But, back to that first post-move visit. Old People Harvard takes itself seriously when it comes to providing top-notch programming for its residents. I remember on my birthday when I called Mom to let her know I was stopping by to drop off a cupcake. She answered the phone in that whisper I knew meant she was involved in something.

“I’m in the Rubeinstein Room. Russ Feingold is talking about his new book.”

“Okay,” I replied. “I’ll sneak in quietly.”

When I walked in, he was answering a question about the difference between Sunni and Shiite Muslims. I dropped the cupcake into her hands and cruised back to work, where I spent the rest of the day working and passing out cupcakes to people who’d been kind to me over the past year.

Okay, seriously now. Back to that first post-move visit.

Richard is a photographer for the Associated Press. Trish, the programming genius at Old People Harvard, got him to do a “show and tell” with the photos he’s taken over a 50-year span. I could fill up the rest of this post with names of famous people and events he described photographing. His stories about the pictures were as riveting as the photos themselves. I didn’t want the program to end, and I wasn’t alone.

So, cut to two years ago, when I got my dream job as a public librarian and learned that programming was part of my job. Getting Richard to come to the library and share his photos could be part of my job!?

It was, and it is, and this afternoon it is happening. So, that’s the librarianship part of this post.

In accidental landlording adventures, when a known drug dealer looked at the house next door to us seven years ago, I was all “Hell no!”

I had a little extra scratch thanks to a car accident, and used it to buy the house. It’s basically a free-standing one-bedroom apartment in a park – 731 square feet on a 60-foot lot.

I thought Mom could live in it if she wanted to, which she didn’t. One of my offspring lived there for awhile (I joked that we were running a subsidized housing program – don’t ask!). Since she moved, we’d been pretty lucky to rent it to reasonable tenants on a word-of-mouth basis.

Luck ran out when our most recent tenant stopped being sober and skipped out, leaving us with a $715 water bill and all his stuff. Yesterday, someone I’ve known for 10+ years came over to look at it.

Sweetheart and I have a boatload of work to do to get the nasty tobacco smell out of the house (smoking in the house was prohibited by his lease, but drunks aren’t big on rule-following) and get it habitable by December for a mom, a kid and a dog.

I am looking forward to having someone I know and trust and value next door.

I’m looking forward to this afternoon.

I’m especially looking forward to Tuesday, hoping fervently that enough sensible people in this country see right-wing fear tactics for what they are and vote accordingly.  Please be one of them.

 

 

 

My Write-in Candidate is Dead and Reductive Disrespecters Want Your Brain: An Election Season Guide for the Perplexed

There are a lot of reasons I miss having a dog. Election season is one. Tuki used to come with me when I voted.

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She was also my candidate of choice on more than one occasion. I voted for Tuki when it was clear that, compared to the humans on a ballot, she would represent my interests more competently.

I wrote in Tuki for County Supervisor the whole time Lee Holloway was in office. The only time I ever saw him at my door was after a pension scandal (he and his fellow supervisors voted themselves and county employees fat pensions at the expense of the county’s well-being). When I asked him about it, he got owly. His opponent had no political experience and misspellings on her campaign literature. Tuki was the clear winner.

Even before she died in November, I knew there was a viable human candidate for County Supervisor this coming April. When my friend Mike found out I’d been laid off last July, he told me he was running and asked if I’d be willing to help with his campaign.

Lke me, Mike is a progressive communitarian. Of course I’d be willing to help!

Also, I quite adore him. I also adore his wife Trudy, their kids Jon and Carolyn and their special needs dog, Turbo. (Turbo is an epileptic – but courtly – German Shepherd.)

I asked about specific things he could affect as Supervisor.

“Three things,” he answered. “Transportation, parks and jobs.”

“Four,” I said. “Mental health services.”

“Absolutely!” he said.

So, since fall, Mike’s been walking the district, knocking on doors and introducing himself to voters. By the time it was time to collect the 200 signatures he needed to get on the ballot, he’d gotten a lot of exercise. He’d also gotten a lot of information from his prospective constituents.

It used to be that simple. Candidates declared their intentions by going directly to We the People to talk about who they were and what they’d do, and We the People listened, used our brains to make an informed decision, and voted.

But most people are busy. Or lazy. Some are so turned off by having seen nothing change for so long that they’ve abandoned the process entirely and don’t even bother with elections or voting any more.

All that is a big mistake. Because people – on the left and the right – have figured out how to turn that cynicism and laziness to their advantage, and they’re doing just that. They’ve given up on changing the system. They’re just trying to milk it in order to get more for themselves or keep what they have by maintaining the status quo. And they’re using your brain – with your cooperation – to get the job done.

You can see it working right now in the run-up to next year’s presidential election. Who will Hispanics want? What about women? How do we get the Black vote? What about the Jews? How do we reach White Men?

Local party/organization bosses are exactly the same. They go out and find people they think the Hispanics/Women/Blacks/Jews/White Men will vote for and recruit them to run. Then, they pour money and publicity into their campaigns and send out press releases touting their credentials “S/He went to a rally for {insert cause here} and is an activist in his/her {insert demographic-catnip-sounding group name here}!”

It’s all designed to appeal to your emotions.

Which is reductive and disrespectful. Almost as disrespectful as the fact that these decisions are, by and large, made by people who don’t even live in the districts they’re working to influence.

So, yeah. Qualifications aside, I’m a little cranky that Mike, who is in his 50s and white, is being told by the people who don’t live here that they have to support the black woman in her 20s because she’s a black woman in her 20s.

Anyway, all this to say that during this election season, don’t take anyone’s word for what the person who wants to represent you stands for. When those glossy things start showing up in your mailbox, or if candidates show up on your doorstep, find out how long they’ve lived in your district, what drove them to run, what they want to accomplish in office and how they plan to do it.

Then, stick it to the reductive disrespecters. Use your pre-frontal cortex  instead of your limbic system when you decide who’s getting your vote.