Tuesday, November 7, 2017


Last Year

I set out my clothes for the next day, after I get home from work every day. The ritual is this: come in, greet Penelope and Gossamer, put down some kibble for them, put my cell phone on the couch so I won't miss important messages from my boss. Check the mail. Pen's done eating by now, or has had enough to start following me around, so she goes in the yard. Goss and I go upstairs. On the best days, he races me, and he ALWAYS wins.

In the bedroom, I put down the things of the day, take off the jewelry - always a nice moment, a physical relaxation - change clothes, check the weather, and decide on what to wear the next day.

I rarely dither, in this wardrobe selection. But last night, instead of weather, that local channel served up two campaign ads in quick succession, so I forwent the forecast. And laid out shoes, pants, and a short-sleeved blouse. It took me a while to pick something, even the purse to carry. But it had to be something with red in it - to remind myself: "tomorrow is election day."

Wearing red/white/and/or blue is rather on the nose, but I am all for obvious symbolism for any occasion. (On 11/9 last year, I wore cream and pale aqua - laid out the night before - meant to be a celebration of our freedom from the long, stressful campaign ... things did not turn out as I had hoped,of course; but I wore the cream and aqua anyway.) (And I wore brown on 11/8; good fall colors - and a locket with my dad's picture.)

So yesterday I had my nod to patriotism ready - but when I came up for bedtime, I saw the weather forecast at last, and found (hurray!) it was not expected to be short-sleeve weather. Time to rethink.

Today I am wearing a soft sweater, light beige.

So far this morning at the office, I have spotted: two red sweaters, and another work pal in royal blue.

Seems I am not the only one who goes in for symbolism - whether they did this consciously or not.

Accessorized to the nines.

How do you observe election day (even if today is not one for you)? Some do it with a memento, I know. We often respond to participating in democracy with something less concrete - prayers, even tears.

Do you carry something with you? Do you find yourself wearing a color or a shirt that gives you confidence, makes you feel bold?

Do you vote?

I voted today. Whatever else comes, that is a magnificent privilege still to treasure. That is a blessing to be thankful for.


Casey Karp said...

I didn't vote, but only because there wasn't an election where I live.

California has a wonderful policy which allows you to sign up to vote by mail. The ballot comes to me, I fill it out in the comfort of my own chair, at my leisure--and with the ability to set the ballot aside and go do some research on any proposition I'm still on the fence about. And then I usually drop the ballot off at my local polling place, rather than trust it to the tender mercy of the US Postal Service.

It's a very civilized way to vote.

No mementos, no special clothing. Just an awareness that those folks in Sacramento and D.C. are supposed to represent my interests, and voting is how I tell them what my interests are.

DLM said...

At some point in the aftermath of last November, one of the thinkpieces on Democracy Itself pointed to the massive increase in absentee voting as one of the less positive trends of the past twenty years. The loss of the communal rite of standing in a line with fellow citizens, the sense of excitement at polling places. I of course respect your methods, but the idea did resonate with me.

I'm a dedicated voter, and I can't remember a time I didn't get to chatting with someone else waiting to put in their ballot. Some elections have been dark and rainy, and presidential votes do involve long lines, but there is a special excitement. It's a unique civic event, and the moments I've shared talking about my dog or the weather, even with folks I know probably aren't voting the way I will, stay with me.

It also puts us face to face with each other in a political and social context which is necessarily civil. When else do we ever do that these days?

Today, I am wearing my "I reBUKE you, Devil!" outfit. It's just an outfit. But I'm wearing it, you know, TODAY. :)

Casey Karp said...

Clearly I'm living in the wrong places. I don't think I've ever been in a line at my polling place long enough to allow me to say more than "Hello" to the person next to me.

Jeff said...

We didn't have a local election yesterday, but after I moved to D.C. twentysomething years ago, I began wearing my grandfather's SOLIDARNOSC lapel pin to the polls. It's the logo of the Polish Solidarity movement, the trade union that helped bring down communism. It's my way of saying I don't have much respect for politicians, but it's also one of the ways I complain about living in places so dominated by one party that there isn't a whole lot of choice to be had.

DLM said...

Okay, before I even got to the sentence explaining Walesa's movement, I literally said OH MAN out loud reading your comment. That is awesome. As are unions.

Virginia came up with choices this year, for districts, and at levels where there haven't been any for a long time. Still mostly two choices, but the number of candidates scrolling along under the returns numbers who were not party-coded blue or red was notable; I might almost say "substantial" though it's a matter of perception, so YMMV as the kids say.

Casey, I actually got the chance to talk with people at the PRIMARY this year. Engagement was pretty amazing, really. In 2008 and 2012 (of course less so), the lines moved, but they were such that the line had to be routed circuitously within the building to manage numbers and traffic. In 2008, the line went out the door and, while it was managed very well, my estimate would be we had a good 100-yard wait of it, about 25-30% of that being outdoors in the cold/rain. Our Richmond isn't a big city, but it's the capital, so maybe the population is more likely to come out? It was in 2012 I got to chatting with a neighbor about the dog. :)

DLM said...

Now that I think on it, maybe more like half the line was outdoors, and maybe longer than 100 yards or so. I had to backtrack from my car, and I didn't get a close spot. But they kept it moving.