Monday, March 03, 2008

It all comes back to Ohio

Most of you probably know that I love Ohio. I grew up here, of course, and have a pretty fond memory of my childhood. When I went away to college, I felt the need to sow my oats and experience life. I went to school in upstate New York, and when I finished grad school, I did 2 internships in North Carolina and Virginia, as I toyed with the idea of settling in the south. But ultimately, what that experience did was bring me back to Ohio. Not that I think that Ohio is a better to place to live than any of those other places, but it's just home. I enjoyed my time away (almost 6 years altogether), but it made me appreciate what I have here in the Buckeye state.

So I often joke that it all comes back to Ohio. There have been many scenarios in my own life in which this is true, but we also seem to be a consistently pivotal state when it comes time for elections. Tomorrow is Ohio's (and Texas') primary election. And once again, the news is talking it up as if everyone will be watching to see if these two states can help determine with more certainty the presidential candidates for November. Now, I'm not heavily into politics, and I don't want to start discussing politics on this blog, but this excitement has me thinking of a couple of stories.

The first takes me back to the last presidential election in 2004. Of course, after the close race of 2000, record turnout was expected, and there was a lot of anticipation related to the election. All day as people in my district went to vote, I was hearing these crazy reports that people were waiting 1-3 hours in line. I really couldn't believe it, but I was not about to be daunted. In addition to the presidential election, I needed to vote for a school levy that my very job depended on. I had told my sister that I would wait and go with her to vote after she got off work, which meant that we arrived at the polls only minutes before it closed at 7pm. They led us to the back door of the school building, in which I could see a long line of people weaving in and out of hallways on the opposite side of the building from the gymnasium where the booths were located. Prepared to stand there for as long as 3 hours, we settled in, with only 1 other person getting in line behind us before they closed the doors. But soon, people who were leaving were telling us stories like, "I started out waaayy up there, and I waited 3 and a half hours." We got to know the people in line around us quite well that evening. Some people had brought cards, and I learned a new game or two. Others were talking on their cell phones, and rumors started in the line: the national news is reporting that the election is SO close, it may all depend on Ohio. Not only that, but our district is the only one with people still in line, so essentially - the election all comes down to US! So ok, none of us really believed this to be true, but it sure was fun to see people that excited about voting. So finally, to a make a long story tolerable, I finally cast my ballot shortly after midnight, over 5 hours after I arrived at the school. People were high-fiving each other as they left the booth, so proud that they weathered the storm to claim their right to vote. So what about you - did you wait in long lines to vote for that election?

The other story goes back to my days in Ithaca, in which my studies granted me the opportunity to meet the First Lady, who is currently running for President. At the time, she was running for Senate in New York, and she stopped by a place where I was working as part of a research project with the elderly, and she had some kind of interest in inter generational collaboration or something. I know some people are not big fans of the Clintons, but no matter how you feel about them, it was pretty cool to meet the First Lady. The security was amazing - I had to get clearance a full week ahead of time to even be able to stand in the same room as her. Then just before she entered, they brought in these REALLY intense looking dogs to come into the room and sniff us all out. (and this was before 9/11) I was so nervous, and I have absolutely no recollection of what I said to her. The whole thing lasted about 10 minutes, and it was such a blur. I just kept thinking, "This woman is married to the President. Wait. This woman is married to the President." But even if I can't remember it, at least I have photographic evidence:

That's me to the left of Hillary. They made us wear those shirts to represent the college - ugh.

So anyway, I can't wait to see the result of tomorrow's election. I even dreamt about it last night. And as much as it would be cool to have a picture of me standing next to someone who eventually became President, I'm not planning to vote for Hillary tomorrow. But that's as far as I'm willing to discuss politics here... if you live in Ohio - remember to go vote tomorrow!


Mommy Daisy said...

Through ice and messy roads I went to vote. I remember hearing all about the lines for the 2004 election (and it was an exciting one), but we didn't have to wait here. It was busy, but no lines. I remember substitute teaching the next day, and that's all the kids wanted to talk about. So we discussed it for a while. It was interesting to hear what 5th graders had to say. I mostly went to the polls today to vote on a school issue, so I understand that.

Oma Froehle said...

But what about the DOCTOR'S APPOINTMENT! Pennsylvania is the last primary on April 23, and I heard Hillary on TV on Saturday as I waited for my oil change. She has been screaming so much that her voice sounds like a fish wife.

Now, tell me about the baby!