MWD31 - On Voting

Or why I can't make small talk with colleagues, but always make friends with strangers in line

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Today, I voted. The line left the building and wound down the sidewalk, but I was in and out in about an hour, and as I waited, I made a friend. It’s an odd thing about me. In “normal” social settings, I am awkward, unwieldy. Cocktail party or work gathering? No, thank you. Small talk at a networking event? Not so much. But random stranger in line? Yes. You are the one I will share life stories with.

I think it is a shared purpose thing. A united mission. We started chatting when a new woman entered the line, complaining about how long it was, and the woman behind me kind of muttered under her breath, “So worth it, though.” And I had to turn and smile and agree. And we laughed together and talked about growing up in this town and the schools we went to, and our kids and our churches, and how we all, most of us anyway, really do care about each other, when we can get past all the junk.

And yes, she is Black, and I am not. A real photo-op, if anyone was looking for it, but we were not. We were just two mamas who cared a lot. And yes, we were probably going to mark the same names on those ballots. And yes, there were folks in that line who were not going to do that. But we agreed it was better when we all voted, regardless of how the vote turns out. And we agreed that seeing all those people in line was powerful. Important. Lump in the throat good stuff.


Vote, will you?

Now, here are some pieces that you should read. And though I share a lot of really good writing, I hope you will believe me when I tell you that these two absolutely sat me down in awe:

  • First is this piece by Hilton Als: “Homecoming” in the print edition (online it has a longer title). This is why I can’t just recycle the magazines I haven’t yet gotten to. This is why I will keep reading for months even though my subscription ran out in August. This piece is brilliant. I could quote you lines populated entirely by the heartrending questions Als articulates. Instead, I’ll give you only one:

Who would I be when the revolution finally came?

  • Then there’s this. You know how when something just hits you, so perfectly, it strikes like a match and then there is flame and heat and sometimes pain? Yeah, that’s this essay from Heather Havrilesky which asks, “Are You Aging Correctly?” and closes with these lines:

My power is graceless as a seabird, volatile as the tides, defenseless as an empty beach. My power is buoyant and generous and fragile as blown glass. My power is tireless and ferocious and vain as the sun that burns your skin. Come a little closer and feel it for yourself. You’ll know I’m not pretending.

This week’s Moment of Unexpected joy

Published this week:

This summer, I got the chance to go behind the scenes at the Votes For Women Center at Nashville Public Library. Even though they have been closed since March, they created a pretty special virtual opening of the new space in August, and Library Journal let me write about it.

Votes For Women Opening

On Sundays, #WeReadPoetry. This week, it was Ada Limón’s Sharks in the Rivers

Sharks in the Rivers

David Arnold is, hands down, the most talented writer working in YA right now. Take it to the bank, friends. He has a new one coming out in February, I think, but his last title (The Strange Fascinations of Noah Hypnotik) is astonishingly good.

Strange Fascinations

Thanks as always for reading and thinking with me. Have comments, suggestions, or questions? Reply to this email, and I promise a response. And if you can think of someone who might appreciate this sort of weekly musing, please consider sharing this post with them and encouraging them to join us. There’s always room for more around this odd table.