Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Diary of an Election Day

5:55am - I'm awake! Thanks in part to the three alarms I set, and also to the loud salsa music that was inexplicably blaring in the street for a couple minutes. (aside: Brooklyn is a whole lot louder than I anticipated before moving here.)

6:15am - I'm dressed! Armed with several forms of ID and a good book, I walk down the street to my polling place. The line extends out the door of the school, around the corner and down the block. I take my place in line behind a man and his mother and make small talk. I am not a chit-chatty person. Ever. And especially not in the morning. But this morning - I feel like I could chat up a tree, I'm so bouncy & excited.

6:55am - I have reached the promised land of the school gymnasium! Still in line, still waiting, but the voting booths are now in sight. All around me I hear the clang of the levers, registering votes. I have mentally composed a list of possible process improvements. More signs! Better expectation management! Still, it has been a mostly painless experience thus far. I am very excited to be here. A girl behind me expresses a sentiment that echoes my own thoughts: "It feels like Christmas morning! Except with the possibility of sucking a lot at the end."

7:20am - I make my selection, pull the lever and vote for change! It feels a teensy bit anti-climactic, though. Like there should be confetti and streamers showering down as I leave the booth. Trumpets sounding. High fives. People leaping into the air like an old-school Toyota commercial. Oh well. I walk home, make some coffee, get ready for work and the waiting game.

12:19pm - I am not good at waiting! (no surprise there) When do we get results? Why doesn't have anything new or interesting to tell me? I try to distract myself. I try not to relive the dark days of 2004.

5:46pm - I reluctantly prepare to leave my news feed and head downtown to Hebrew class.

6:55pm - Class starts late, in part because we have been chatting about the election. My teacher is school-girl-giddy over Obama. We have a final word on New Hampshire, and the Great Schlep, before getting down to business with the causitive verb pattern.

8:25pm - Causitive verb pattern be d*&$#-ed! Teacher has her coat on, her bag packed, and is ready to bolt. Class ends early as we disperse to go watch the returns.

8:55pm - I arrive uptown in Murray Hill and make my way to T.'s apartment to watch the election coverage, eat good snacks and do some socializing. I join the party already in progress. We compare NBC to Fox News to John Stewart/Stephen Colbert, and blue corn chips to blue potato chips. There are no easy answers.

11:01pm - John Stewart declares Obama the winner. That John Stewart is such a riot! Wait...we think he might be serious. Is he being serious? Do we have a winner? NBC seems to confirm it. It seems too early - skepticism reigns in hope.

11:05pm - I text my brother, "Is this it? Is it real? Can we believe it?!" He texts back, "Yes we can!"

11:45pm - I begin my own great schlep back home. In front of me, the ESB glows red and blue and I find, for the first time in a long time, a display of patriotism doesn't bother me. I see a few American flags and I don't cringe. For the past several years I've felt such pained chagrin about being an American. Could that be dissipating already? I know it's so not a New Yorker thing to do, but I smile at everyone I pass on the street.

12:15am - While riding the R-train beneath the East River, my iPod and I share a few moments with our friends Peter, Paul & Mary. It seems appropriate. "Have You Been to Jail for Justice?", "The Times They Are a'Changing" and "Day is Done" take me home.

12:32am - I exit the subway in Brooklyn and, for the second time today, think, "Man, Brooklyn is loud!" Cars and taxis and garbage trucks are honking their horns. A group of hooligans (aka my fellow Americans) are straddling the median of 4th Ave, waving streamers and cheering. I see strangers high-fiving. A grown man skipping. It's a party in the streets and there is no sign of stopping.

1:00am - I remember the Jewish prayer that thanks God for bringing us to each new station in life. I thank God for bringing us to this new station.

1:31am-2:30am - Still too loud to sleep, so I talk on the phone with S. about reptilian humanoids, Cain & Abel, and the end of a DB era.

3am - The honking has died down, the "Obama" shouts more sporadic, so I decide to call it a day. And what a day it was.

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