November 6, 2012
I remember when I used to go into the voting booth 20 years ago with my mom. First of all, the word “voting booth” still had meaning. It was a substantial, hearty, roomy voting booth, complete with curtain. There was room for my mom and her three kids in their puffy winter coats. There was a big switchboard with the candidates names prominently displayed with switches that you flipped to indicate who you wanted to vote for. There was a big lever you got to pull to cast your vote. What’s more official than pulling a lever? Nothing.
Essentially, voters were the Wizard of Oz for a day and it felt great. They gave out “I Voted!” stickers. Even the kids got a sticker. It was a land of plenty!
This is easy voting heyday is long gone. Today my voting process started with me saddling up to the folding table assigned to my voting district, where I was given a large Scantron in a manilla envelope by a man way too frazzled to be involved in the election of our President. It was as if I was checking into the Young Accountants of America conference at the downtown Hyatt.
We then had a moment of silence as we stared at each other. Finally I said, “Now what do I do?” He told me to go to the machines behind him and vote.
So I went to the machines behind him to vote. With a blank Scantron. Hey! I didn’t know! He told me to go there! The even more flustered guy at the voting machines looked at me like I was crazy and told me I had to fill out my ballot. This apparently didn’t occur at the voting machine itself, but rather in one of the “privacy booths” in another room.
The “privacy booths” are really just slanted high desks with sides built onto them (a la the picture). Inside the privacy booth was a pen to fill out my Scantron. You heard right. A PEN. Since when do we fill out Scantrons with pens? The answer you’re looking for is NEVER. I felt like the poor kid in class whose mom didn’t know she was supposed to give him No. 2 pencils on standardized testing day. He tries to take the test with a pen, the teacher gets frustrated, and he ends up with a golf pencil that doesn’t have an eraser. I have uncomfortable memories of pens and Scantrons. And this is apparently how I’m supposed to elect the President.
I pick up the shameful pen to vote and start to fill in a bubble. At this point, I go gliding across the room because the privacy booths are on wheels that are not locked down. The privacy booth is now a walker. I had to back that shit up as if someone had grabbed my elbow and yelled in my ear, “Mable! We don’t have a WALK signal yet! Get back on the curb!”
Now. Let’s pause for a second while I remind you that I have some school degrees and am generally a good student. This ballot confused the fuck out of me. It wasn’t clear, in the 6-point font, how many people to vote for in each category.
Okay. So in my heart of hearts I know I only get to pick one President. But Senator? Well, now I just don’t know. I’ve now gotta cull through my mental file labeled Social Studies. There are two senators per state. But they take turns being elected, much like my sister and I took turns in the front seat of my dad’s car. Okay. So only vote for one Senator. I think? I don’t know. It wasn’t clear!
One Presidential vote and seventeen random votes later, I go back to the voting machines, which are computers. So now we’re introducing computers into the process, 95% of the way in, after I’ve essentially written my phone number on a cocktail napkin in lipstick. Mr. Flustered (who is at this point making fires just to put them out) tells me to go scan my ballot at one of the machines.
I ask him politely, “Face up or face down?”
Are you ready for this? Like, really ready for this?
He tells me: “It doesn’t matter.”
IT DOESN’T MATTER!! I’m sorry. Anyone who has ever sent a fax, made a copy, swiped a credit card, scanned a box of Cheerios at the grocery store knows that which side is up matters. If I am sure of one thing in the world, I’m sure there’s always a right side up. This country was BUILT on “This Side Up.” And now you’re telling me it doesn’t matter?? I mean, at this point, why don’t I just go shout my vote from the rooftop and have the dogs from 101 Dalmatians relay it to Scotland Yard via barking chain?
But the computer says my vote has been counted, so I guess it worked.
Then again, a computer also once told me “Kassafrass4687, you have new matches!!” and yet no one’s making me heart-shaped pancakes this morning. So you tell me if it really worked.
September 18, 2012
I just lied about my age for the first time. This is shameful in and of itself. But the way in which I did it, dear reader, makes it all the more shameful.
So , I stopped into a Duane Reade on the way home to get some seltzer, water (on sale at 2 for $4) and grated parmesan like a normal New Yorker. When the cashier rung me up, I realized I hadn’t used my discount card. Now, being my father’s daughter, I decided it was worth a dollar I was going to save to make her do a return and then re-ring me up for the water. (Side bar: the total came to $2.45 with tax so really this all was for about two quarters of money). So we do the return, she rings me up again, and I go to swipe my discount card, and it doesn’t work because they’ve switched over to a new system.
And this is where it happened. As I’m entering in my information for my new discount card on that little credit card swiper machine, the third question is “Birthdate.” Now, I ignore my mother’s voice in my head that says “That’s none of their business” and I enter in 03/05/198 … and then I pause. My hand shakes. I have a decision to make here. Do I proceed on, as an honest human being, or do I take the first step in what could be a severely steep downward spiral of age-lying? I’m sorry to say I did the latter. I shaved four years off my age for purposes of my new Duane Reade discount card. Let me repeat. For purposes of getting discounts on bottles of water, toilet paper and bulk size bags of candy corn, I falsified my age.
Today is a sad day. Mostly because of the age lying thing but also because I bought cheese at a drug store. That never feels right.
Dear Jim Messina, Julianna Smoot, Jeremy Bird and Rufus Gifford,
I am so embarrassed it’s taken me so long to write back to you!! You’ve been so great about keeping me updated about everything you guys have been up to. Those fundraisers and birthday cards and opportunities to have dinner/coffee/light lunch with the President sound awesome. It sounds like you’re doing really well! Keep those e-mails coming.
I know I’ve been a terrible friend, not writing back, so here’s an update on what’s new with me.
Things are good. I resigned my lease, so I’ll be in the same apartment for another year. They jacked the rent a bit, but it’s so hard to find a new place and rent has generally sky-rocketed in NYC. I know you’re hoping for a lease renewal in November too. Fingers crossed!!
Oh! And, dun dun dun dun… I’m an iPhone girl now! I made the switch about a month ago, and I couldn’t be happier. I had the Blackberry before, which had it’s plusses for e-mailing purposes, but it’s true what they say: you do get used to the iPhone touch screen and the browser is much better. I don’t know what you guys have, but iMessage me! I still don’t know what the difference between that and a text message is, but whatever!
Let’s see… what else, what else, what else?
I finally put away that basket of clothes that’s been in the corner of my room for like ever. So that felt pretty good. But now it’s almost time to do laundry again, so that basket will be back soon. Circle of life, am I right?
Um, doing a pretty good job keeping up with Bachelor Pad. Not sure if you guys or Obama are into that show, but it’s pretty good. You can fast forward through the first fifteen or so minutes without losing any storyline, so don’t feel like it’s a full two-hour investment. It’s like an hour and a half, tops. I think President Obama would like it.
And I’m thinking of getting a haircut sometime soon. But since I have a bob it’s like, do I cut my hair now or do I wait till summer’s over so that I can still put it up in a ponytail when it’s super hot? Would be great if Michelle could weigh in on this, if you catch her for a second, since we have similar hair lengths.
I’ve been eating a lot of trail mix these days. Not varietals with peanuts, because a peanut really takes over the taste profile of a trail mix bag, but I’m all over anything with almonds and cashews. You should pick some up! I recommend the Whole Foods Antioxidant Mix.
Then just some random stuff. Got a few doctors appointments coming up. Nothing to worry about, just check-ups. Bought a new pair of Toms shoes (grey this time). I’ve been going to a bunch of concerts this summer, so that’s been fun. So, yeah. Other than that, not much to report. Seems like we’re all pretty busy.
Keep in touch! Miss you guys!!
Check out this article I wrote for crushable.com!
May 7, 2012
This afternoon as I was walking up Park Avenue, I saw two boys around 13 years old (or whatever age it is when your nose is too big for your face) on the corner. I noticed them because one of them was hanging on a cross-walk signal box as his friend/ringleader chanted “Hang on it! Hang on it!”
I thought this was weird, and a part of me was interested to see if this 13 year-old boy was going to do a pull-up. (It’s something I have never accomplished in my life, so I’m generally interested in it as a topic.) But no. I realized they had worse plans in mind when the ringleader starts chanting “Kick over the trash! Kick over the trash!” as I was walking by. And lo and behold, the little snot on the crosswalk signal starts dangling his feet into a very full trashcan next to the traffic pole, about to kick it over and send the can and a lot of trash into the streets and sidewalk.
Now, I was on my way somewhere, but sometimes nothing is more important than putting someone in their place. So I turn myself back around, approach the snot on the crosswalk signal and go:
“Hey, don’t do that. There are a lot of people who work hard to keep this city clean.”
Boy, was I proud when the kid dropped to the ground and started walking fast away from me, embarrassed by his behavior. I felt a little like an old fart but mostly proud of my willingness to stand up to hooligans. No one messes with my city!
Then the ringleader goes to me “Who are you?” I paused for a second, shifted my eyes away, and could think of NOTHING to say. So I just rolled my eyes and walked (ran) away, much like his little friend had done to me.
Dammit! I started so strong!
April 9, 2012
Getting a new passport photo is a great opportunity to reinvent yourself. I learned this today.
Chris at Walgreens was kind enough to help me take what I was hoping would be a prettier (and yes, somewhat older) version of the picture on my expiring passport. He led me to a pull-down screen in the body wash section of the store and told me I couldn’t smile because they’ve gotten strict about not showing teeth, but that I could smirk. Fine.
I arrange my face in what I think is the face of an above-it-all world traveler with a penchant for open-air spice markets and cracked leather hatboxes.
Chris tells me to push my hair further off my forehead.
I do so, then take a moment to rearrange my face per my traveler-of-the-seven-seas inspiration – the smallest upturn of the right side of the lip indicating to Customs officials that I know where to find the finest cardamom in all the land.
Chris takes a picture. He looks at it. “You can smirk you know. Just don’t show your teeth”
Okay, so that wasn’t working for Chris. Fine. I smirk.
“There we go.” Chris is much happier with this face. Snap. He takes the second picture.
Chris then shows me the two pictures I have to choose from. In the first one, the one I thought was the travel-weary model (fine, I’ll say it!), turns out to be the mug shot of a woman named Tanya (pronounced like “suntan”) who just ran out of her doublewide to chase her drunk baby-daddy Red with a frying pan. So I went with the second picture, which is only good in comparison. You can see it here:
This is a picture of Slappy, a handyman that gets by on odd jobs and the kindness of neighbors who remember his mother’s quince pies. Slappy is always slightly drunk, but in a fun way. And as you can see from the pronounced cranial protrusion of his forehead, Slappy is also part Cro-magnon. On this particular day, Slappy went to Mrs. Peabody’s house to clean out the gutters. His hair looks like this because he spit on his palms and plastered down his hair before going inside and asking Mrs. Peabody for her daughter’s hand in marriage. Mrs. Peabody said no, but shook his hand and told Slappy that she had some logs that would need chopping pretty soon. Slappy said “That’ll do” and went on his way to go blow a dandelion.
So that’s the picture I chose.
As Chris was printing my picture, he referenced the circles under my eyes and told me “I can’t do anything about that, those are just your shadows.” No, Chris. Those are Slappy’s shadows. And that’s just fine, because shadows on Slappy’s face means the sun is shining.
April 4, 2012
I wrote an article and it got posted McSweeney’s! Check it out here: