Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Happy Birthday 19th Amendment

Today marks 88 years of constitutionalized women's suffrage. On August 26, 1920, the U.S. Secretary of State certified the ratification of the 19th Amendment.

I found this map showing which states ratified the amendment. (Source.)

The colors mean: Ratification on June 10, 1919 (yellow); ratification from June 16, 1919 to July 28, 1919 (chartreuse [I'd call this green]); ratification from August 2, 1919 to December 15, 1919 (aqua); ratification from January 6, 1920 to March 22, 1920 (gray-green); ratification on August 18, 1920 (gray [I'd call this lavender]).

I think the first time I voted was in college, in the fall of 1995, when Ed Rendell was running for re-election as Mayer of Philadelphia. It took me a while to find my polling place. I was living off-campus so my polling site was a church in West Philly. I had to circle a few times before I found the entrance because the street corner was poorly lit. Then my name was listed incorrectly, although my voter id card that I'd brought with me was correct. Eventually I got to vote. It was the kind of machine where you pull down various levers and then swing a giant lever to the side to record your votes and clear them all at once when you're done.

I voted in the same place for Bill Clinton in 1996. In the fall of 1998, I voted absentee from London (casting a ballot in my home state of Indiana's election). In 2000 I voted absentee in the New York election because, although I lived in NY, I was in Florida working for Gore. My friend Andy K. helped make sure my absentee ballot got FedEx'd to me so I could return it in time. Even though I knew my presidential vote wouldn't do much in New York, I wanted to cast an official vote for Hillary Clinton for Senate, who I'd worked for briefly before heading to Florida.

I also remember when I got to Florida, I learned that not all voting machines used the lever systems I was used to using. Someone came into our field office and asked what the voting machine would be like. I said, "I think it's just a lever system." Our field office director said, "No, polling places use all kinds of different machines and types of ballots. It depends on your polling site." "Really?" I asked skeptically. "People vote on different types of machines in the same election?"

Yup. We really did have that conversation in Florida just a few days before Election Day 2000. If only we'd known what was to come.

Still, I love voting. I love voting. I view my vote as my voice and my power in America. Election results may be a foregone conclusion sometimes, but my vote is still part of that final count, and that means something to me.

As someone who worked in Florida in 2000, I have all kinds of things to say about who to vote for and why. But at the end of the day, I can't and don't believe anyone owes anyone else their vote. Just because one person weighs a set of pros and cons and decides to vote for candidate X, does not mean another person weighing the same pros and cons must come to the same conclusion. Sometimes I wish they did. So badly that it makes me cry for days, if not weeks, on end. Like in 2000. But...

Your vote is your voice -- to use in support, in protest, in silence as a statement, or however else you (legally) choose. It is the one power we all share as Americans. None of us have the right to dictate anyone else's voice. It's the control we give up and over to one another in this crazy democracy we call America.

And it's also why we should always, always, always make sure every vote is counted and counted correctly... and always keep a paper trail of those votes to prevent abuse... and not turn voters away from the polls under the guise of "preventing voter fraud"... and not disenfranchise felons who have already served their time. But those arguments are for another day.

I am so grateful that 88 years ago, a group of amazing women and men succeeded in giving me that voice I cherish today.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Congresswoman Stephanie Tubbs Jones

You have likely heard the news that Congresswoman Stephanie Tubbs Jones passed away yesterday after suffering a brain hemorrhage. I wanted to take a moment to honor her in some small way.

I had long had a soft spot for this woman. She was feisty. She was liberal. And she was from Cleveland -- my second hometown, the gathering place of my extended family and the home of Grandma M. My extended family is a rather conservative bunch, so Congresswoman Jones intrigued me. An outspoken liberal from Cleveland, wahoo!!!

I had the great pleasure of meeting Congresswoman Jones back in 2002 when I was organizing an event for the National Women's Political Caucus. It was an awards ceremony for media coverage of women's issues. We had the ambitious goal of having a member of Congress present each award. Congresswoman Jones was one of the first to say yes.

She arrived at the event with a huge smile on her face and kept up that enthusiasm throughout the ceremony. My knees were shaking when I greeted her, I was so nervous and thrilled. "Now this is someone I want to be like," I remember thinking.

It seems dangerous to idolize politicians too much these days. You never know what you don't know. Maybe Congresswoman Jones was not the wonderfully good-natured person she appeared to be. But I refuse to have doubts now. More importantly, I have no doubt that she was in politics for the right reasons, that she took her job seriously, that she cared about her constituents, and that she cared about the world. I also have no doubt that Congress desperately needs many more members like her.

Congresswoman Stephanie Tubbs Jones' death is an enormous loss for all of us. I will miss her.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Cape Cod

More blogging to come, but as our vacation in Cape Cod with our friends Bill & Claire is coming to and end, here are some pictures from the week.

After wine tasting at the vineyard near the end of Cape Cod.

Rob mans the grill at the cottage we rented.

Post-mini golf on an overcast day.

Sunset at the beach.

Rob cooks our fresh lobster dinner.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Happy 90th Birthday Grandma!

Rob and I were in Cleveland on Friday and Saturday to celebrate my grandmother's 90th(!) birthday on Friday and our annual family reunion. We had a great time with almost my entire extended family in attendance.

I love this picture of my grandma because on the left side of the table you have two of her grandchildren and three of her great-grandchildren (the older girl standing is a great-grandchild!). On my grandma's lap is one grandchild on the left and one great-grandchild on the right. Circling the table to the right are another grandchild and two great-grandchildren. Celebrating this weekend with Grandma were her six living children with their spouses and partners, about 25 grandchildren plus a few spouses, and about a dozen great-grandchildren. The oldest great-grandchild is nearing the end of high school, while the youngest was just born a couple weeks ago (and didn't make the trip to Cleveland)!

Here's my birthday picture with Grandma.

Here are some grandchildren putting together flower arrangements for our dinner on Saturday, which hosted about 75 people. Me, my cousin-in-law Jen (married to my cousin Alan), my cousin Anne (who is exactly one month younger than me), and my cousin Carol (the pioneer of our generation).

Rob got put to work on the grill for dinner, so he decided to teach my cousin Andrew some skills. Andrew preferred posing with the meat.

Now this is a family cooler -- mostly beer with a few juice boxes thrown in for show.

Thursday, August 07, 2008

A couple days overdue

Cheers to us -- six years and counting!

Last week I made a mental note to blog on Tuesday of this week after Rob reminded me that it would be the six year anniversary of our first date. And then we both promptly forgot... until about 1am on Wednesday morning. Rob was asleep and I was up late working when I realized I'd missed the end of Tuesday. Damn! Needless to say, there were no grand plans for the evening.

So this is my belated happy anniversary post to my rockin' husband. Perhaps now that we're married we're only really supposed to celebrate our wedding anniversary. (Although apparently I can't get that right either because someone recently asked me how long I'd been married and I said "one and half years" when it's actually been two and a half years. Nice one. I can't remember who I said it to, so if you're out there, now you know the truth. :)

Anyway, August 5, 2002 will always hold a very special place in my heart. I've already told the story here. But there's always more to say.

In the wee hours of Wednesday morning, after I closed down my computer for the night, I went to store some stuff in our office (aka junk room) when I noticed a stack of pictures on the desk. I've been through this stack a million times. Pictures from our wedding and all sorts of random events from both our pasts. Pictures that are longing to be put in albums or frames But this time I grabbed at the stack and noticed a letter from me to Rob in the middle of it. Weird that I hadn't noticed it before.

The letter was from the early months of our relationship. It was written the day after some work conference call kept me occupied through an evening I was supposed to be spending with Rob. I sat on the call from home while Rob cooked dinner and cleaned my room, which I didn't even know he'd done until I got off the call hours later. So in the letter I was thanking him for that and thanking him generally for being such a wonderful boyfriend.

I love that Rob cleaned my room. I had totally forgotten that. Rob, do you even remember that? If you'd asked me three days ago if Rob had ever cleaned my room when we were dating, I would have laughed at the thought! But now I remember. No one had ever cleaned my room for me before. :)

And I love that Rob cooked me dinner. One of many, many, many dinners to follow. God I hate cooking. My poor husband suffers the burden of making dinner without any help from me. I did order the pizza *and* go downstairs to collect it from the delivery guy the other day though. And that's a big flight of stairs.

Seriously though, the best thing about the letter though is that every gushy sentence of it (and there were many) is still true today. Rob has been my best friend since the early weeks of our relationship. We are as inseparable now as we were then. Of course today I know I feel infinitely luckier to have him than I did then, or even than I did last year. But wow it's cool to read those words from over five years ago and know that this awesome thing I have, we have, was so awesome from the beginning. It still feels like a miracle somehow.

Life's not perfect. People aren't perfect. So there's no way a relationship could be perfect. But I wouldn't change a single thing about mine.

Happy anniversary (plus two days) Rob!

Monday, August 04, 2008

Say whaaaat? A whole weekend in Chi-town??

We actually stayed in Chicago this past weekend. CRAZY! What a welcome change of pace though.

On Friday night, my buddy Kate from my clerking days was in town with her husband Chris. So we met them out at a bar with a few other folks. Our friend Susie also came along, which was great because even though Susie lives in Chicago, I haven't seen her in ages. My friend Brian was also in town and hanging out. A very nice surprise. A very nice, chill time was had by all.

Saturday morning Rob and I slept in. But once we got up we took advantage of the nice weather and took a very long, winding walk to the lake. The walk was even better because we had our new sneakers on. (Last Thursday we made it to Fleet Feet just in time to buy sneakers before they closed.) If I haven't mentioned it lately, living in such close proximity to a massive body of water is just awesome for the soul. As we wandered north along the lakeshore, we found some less crowded park areas we hadn't visited before. So we're looking forward to returning soon. If we're ever in town again.

On Saturday night Rob covered the Chicago Fire game while I got in some work. Fun. Well, fun for Rob. Especially since the Fire finally won a game!

Sunday morning I woke up and Rob was MIA... only to return a few minutes later with lattes and donuts. Well played!!! That evening we headed over to Jeff and Sara's for a round of the greatest turkey burgers ever and a showing of The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants (1). I'd never seen it but was convinced by Sara that I must. It was actually pretty darn good. So I'm looking forward to seeing the sequel with Sara some time soon.

We hit the hay early because Rob has his first day of his new job today. Very exciting!

But for the rest of this week we're in a countdown. Rob does one week at work and then we're off on our long-scheduled week in Cape Cod with Bill and Claire. I can't wait for a week of chill out time. Although first we head to Cleveland for my grandma's 90th(!) birthday this Friday and a massive family reunion, which will be a ton of chaotic fun.