Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Vote and hope

It's been one of those months, and we're only four days in.

The editor of the magazine I write for emailed and said she was running my story as the cover. Yippee! She added she would be paying me the usual pittance (there went my fantasy of a cover story warranting a bonus). Then she noted that I was actually making more writing for the magazine than she was so I should just shut up and be grateful (my words, not hers.)

Later in the day, an administrator at one of the places where I teach e-slapped me. The classroom where I teach changes every week, and this week, I had inadvertently taught in the wrong classroom, forcing the knitting class to scramble to find another room to knit in at the last minute. In my own defense, I thought I was teaching in the classroom I had been assigned to, I really did. But I admit to being in a bit of a fog Monday night. Both my kids had spent the weekend fighting sinus infections, and the weekend was a blur of trick-or-treating, coupled with multiple visits to the pediatrician and the pharmacy to procure Augmentin. My younger son had also broken his wrist, and was stumbling around with a red cast wrapped around his arm. Then there were the bags of Halloween candy we'd eaten before, during and after Halloween, which had turned us all into depleted, sugar-filled wrecks.

I know, I know, excuses, excuses, but I swear I didn't see any knitters anywhere when I went to my classroom! And if I had, I never would have stolen a classroom out from under them! But because this administrator is also in charge of my paycheck, and because two of my best friends are avid knitters, I apologized.

Election Day finally arrived, and God bless everyone who voted early, but not often. I did not vote early because my older son wanted to vote with me after school, so I spent the day trying to be a better person than I am. I took my dog for a long run, bought a latte for a high school friend who helped get me a job, and took my younger son out for lunch at our local diner, where I let him order root beer with his chicken nuggets, even though he wasn't due for a special treat. We went home and his new friend from soccer came over, and once they were settled on their playdate (they alternated between watching babies "talk" on YouTube and doing science experiments in the basement), I left the boys with my babysitter and went to donate blood at our Temple.

Donating blood is always a mitzvah and always a chore. Last year, I was turned away for not having enough iron in my blood, so I spent the past year, popping iron pills, determined to turn my iron definiency around. I filled out the form, which was long. I checked "no" next to all the boxes that asked if I had ever slept with someone who had traded sex for drugs or money, and checked "no" when asked if I had lived in England long enough to contract mad cow disease. Then I sat down and waited my turn. The young, pretty, very skinny woman who read my form pricked both my middle fingers twice, and took my blood pressure. My blood pressure was low (normally a good thing, though not necessarily at a blood drive). Then, she told me I didn't have enough iron in my blood and I didn't weigh enough.

I didn't weigh enough? Was she kidding? If I don't weigh enough, you don't weigh enough! I wanted to yell. Instead, I almost cried and slunk away. Part of me was depressed, the other part was ecstatic.

No one has ever told me I don't weigh enough. I gained 55 pounds when I was pregnant with my kids, and don't even get me started about freshman year in college.

Still, I felt deflated. I was embarrassed in front of my fellow Temple members, who could see I hadn't given blood but didn't know why. And I was sad that I couldn't pony up a pint of blood, and maybe never could. My Dad had received countless transfusions when he was battling lymphoma, and I really wanted to return the favor.

I called my husband for comfort. "I couldn't give blood," I said. "Two years in a row. Why is everything so hard?"
"Things are hard for everyone," my husband said, and nicely told me to stop belly-aching.

I went home, told my older son to get dressed for hockey practice and took him to vote. We drove to a Church up the hill from our house. The parking lot wasn't full, there were no lines and people were friendly and smiling and holding doors for each other. My son came into the voting booth with me and pressed the bright red "VOTE" button after I made my choices. We saw his friend's Mom, and she came over to say hello. I'm pretty sure this Mom and I were not voting for the same ticket, but she was also there with her sons, and it was nice to see her and know that at the very least, we were all in the same place, at the same time, doing the same thing, and making sure our kids were paying attention.

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