Free At Last

Exercised my right to vote!

So, after staring at it for about a week now, I finally did the deed. With no further doubt in my mind, I filled out my mail-in election ballot, signed my name, sealed that puppy up, and stuck some stamps on the envelope. I am finished. Tomorrow I take it to the post office and drop it in the big blue box. All the research, reading, and referencing, all the discussions, drama, and debating about this election are officially behind me. It’s out of my hands. From here on out, I am free, free at last. Well…except for the non-stop political phone calls, television and online advertisements, and candidate postcards invading my household.

As I was sealing up the ballot, my youngest finally got interested in the whole election process.

“Mom, does everyone have to vote?” he asked.

“No, sweetie. No one has to vote, but voting is a right. It’s a privilege. It’s important. Why do you ask?”

“Because it kind of seems like a pain,” he said.

“What part, Luke?”

“Well, all the ads are kind of annoying,” he said.

“This is true,” I replied.

“Yeah,” Joe chimed in. “And people are going cuckoo.”

“What do you mean cuckoo?” I inquired.

“Well, everybody’s talking about it and fighting about it. Friends are all annoyed at other friends about it. I’m ready for it to be over with so people will stop talking about it and be nice again,” he replied.

He’s got a point. When it’s not election time, it does seem a wee bit easier to find peace with our neighbors, friends, and family who see things differently. This whole political process reminds us that things are complicated. Life is not black and white. There are no easy answers. The other night during the debate I was texting with a friend from college. She and her husband own a small business, and they are deeply concerned that Obamacare will put them out of business. That small business, passed down from a previous generation, is their retirement plan. They could lose it. There are no words I could say to her to make that situation any less miserable. But, just as she has her reason for casting her ballot, every other person I know has a different reason for casting theirs. Politics is a tough game. Nothing is equal or fair for everyone. That can make for difficult conversations between people who otherwise get along without a scrape. We all vote for what will best serve us. When the election is over, we may or may not get the benefit we thought we would receive when we cast our vote. All that posturing may be for nothing, but we try. We vote because we hope our needs will be heard. We hope we can help create change.

I will be relieved when I drop my ballot into a US postal service mailbox tomorrow. I’ll be glad to have played a part in this election. I’ll be counting the days until it’s all over, and we can all get on with our normal lives in the best way we know how without all the political hoopla. My boys are right. The election process is kind of a pain, but we wouldn’t be Americans without it. Freedom never came without a cost, and that’s exactly what I told them today.

Grow A Vagina And Get Back To Me

The link I wanted my girlfriends to see…the one that led me to yoga

Today I did something I don’t often do. I posted to my Facebook page a link to something that is a politically charged issue. I usually avoid any sort of post that might in any way be construed as inflammatory. I usually do this because I’m not a big fan of conflict, and I don’t necessarily like to splatter my political, religious, or other personal views all over Facebook for the universe to see. Today, though, I got a wild hair and thought some of my girlfriends would appreciate a link to a web page that interested me. The page offered a petition called The Bill of Reproductive Rights. Created by the Center for Reproductive Rights, the bill’s mission is to let lawmakers in Washington, DC, know that women want safe, affordable, and readily accessible reproductive health care. Call me crazy, but as a woman, I care about this issue. Deeply. So, I posted the link intending to share it with my girlfriends who might also care deeply. The can opener turned. Wouldn’t you know it? Worms. Everywhere.

Within fifteen minutes, I had received a post on my link from a friend I knew from college my freshman and sophomore year. The minute I saw his name, I knew his comment would be contentious. You see, this fellow and I are about as far opposite each other on the political spectrum as you can get. Sure enough. He had seen my post and had something to say. I was already regretting my decision. I read his post and took a deep breath. Against my better judgment, I decided to reply to his comment. My comment was short and sweet. I told him that if he didn’t appreciate my right to my own opinion, he was welcome to hide my posts or block me from his Facebook world entirely. I thought that would end the argument. I mean, how could he possibly take it any further, right? Wrong. He took my comment as an invitation, apparently, to enlighten me about how clueless I am. Cheese and Rice. Are you kidding me? His next comment was 158 words long. Yes. I checked. 158 words to elucidate how clearly misguided I am as to what is important with regard to this election…at least for him. Here’s an exact quote:

This whole war on women is a straw man, a distraction that is used to draw attention away from our economy and ALL people’s freedoms being radically eroded.

Well, I can understand why he would see things that way. There are a lot of issues about which to be concerned this election, just as in any election. But for me, this “war on women” will never be just a “straw man” because I have a vagina. It matters a great deal to me what legislators think is okay for me to do with and for my lady parts. Some people want the government to keep their hands out of business. I want them to keep their hands out of my business, my lady business. I did not, contrary to the beliefs of some, post my link to foster a debate. I was simply sharing information. I was not looking for an argument or asking for input. In fact, after I read my friend’s 158-word post, I did what any good feminist, hippie, liberal would do. I took a deep breath and went to yoga to seek the enlightenment my friend was trying to give me.

This election is close. We all have a lot at stake, but that doesn’t mean we have to get in each others’ faces about it. I see political posts by friends every single day that run counter to my own beliefs. But, I don’t hop onto their personal Facebook pages and vomit my opposition all over the place because I respect their right to their opinions and beliefs. I choose to agree to disagree. I’m comfortable with my beliefs and no one, no matter how emphatic their comments are, will change my mind until it’s ready to be changed. End of story. And, yes, friend…I am receptive to honest, intellectual give and take on the subject of women’s reproductive rights. And, the minute you grow a vagina so you have a legitimate stake in this issue, let me know and I’ll take you up on that offer. I’m not unreasonable. I just think you should know a bit about the subject before you discuss it.

Sell Crazy Some Place Else

My write-in candidate

It’s 10:30 now, and I am finally sitting down with a few free minutes to do my blog post of the day. The reason for my late start tonight is that a crazy loon hijacked my free time this evening. I’d go into greater detail about this loon, but the loon is a family member and obviously there’s enough trouble in my family already without my blogging about it.

So, instead, I will offer just this little tidbit. I have been thinking lately about the upcoming presidential election. This is a big deal for me because, as a rule, I try not to pay too much attention to politics. Honestly, it just gives me a headache. It seems we take one step forward and then two steps back and we go nowhere. Nothing really changes. And, during an election year, people get all riled up about something that four years from now will reoccur in some sort of Groundhog Day scenario. I’d rather eat ice cream in the park and not think about it.

But, today, I was reading happily along on the Internet when I found an article about a candidate I could perhaps get behind in the next election. This candidate has been the mayor of Talkeetna, Alaska, for fifteen years. His name is Mayor Stubbs. I’m not surprised if you haven’t heard of him. You see, Mayor Stubbs is a cat. Fifteen years ago, when he was just a kitten, he was put on the mayoral ballot as a write-in candidate; and because this is Alaska, where apparently anyone can become mayor, he won. So far, Mayor Stubbs has done a wonderful job increasing tourism. He’s well-liked and folks in the small town feel he’s one of the best mayors they’ve ever had. No one seems to care that he’s missing his tail. It hasn’t affected his ability to perform his job. And, no one’s bothered him about his birth certificate either.

I think the fine residents of Talkeetna might just be onto something. Since Mayor Stubbs took office, there have been no scandals or mismanagement of funds. About the worst thing Mayor Stubbs can be accused of is taking a bit of the old catnip every afternoon at 4 p.m. Still, the town seems no worse for the wear under his leadership. I think he may have a better current record than either of the front runners in the next presidential election can claim. And, let’s face it, Mayor Tubbs comes cheap. I think we could afford a catnip stipend and perhaps balance the budget. If one of our allies needs to be won over, a purring cat might be the man for the job. If one of our enemies is acting like a wascally wabbit, Mayor Stubbs could claw their eyes out. It’s just crazy enough to work.

Okay. Okay. This is all a bit silly. You’re indulging me, and I deeply appreciate it. It is late. But, you know what? Mayor Stubbs made me smile today, and it’s been a while since any political figure has made me do that. Besides, with the evening I’ve had, I needed a good smile. In a country where our motto could easily be “Sell crazy some place else…we’re all stocked up here” (Jack Nicholson, As Good As It Gets), electing a cat might just offer the kind of radical change people seem to be looking for.