In summer of 1970, at the age of eight, I committed my first act as a political animal: I conducted a poll. Taking a piece of cardboard from one of my dad's dry-cleaned shirts, I magic-markered on the white side: WOMEN'S LIB. I underscored those radical words and underneath wrote two other lines:
That's all I wanted. I wasn't selling my neighbors usuriously high-priced gift wrap or other things they didn't need. I just wanted to know which women in my neighborhood were for and which against this crucial issue. Somehow in my mind, I had decided that the women's liberation movement could not possibly stride forward unless I was able to provide statistics from my own minuscule neighborhood in suburban CT. So I trudged from one-acre lot to one-acre lot, doggedly seeking my data. This did not take long since I was only allowed to go to three streets. Nor was it a very successful day for the movement. What few women did answer their doors - I remember all of them wearing hair curlers - did not answer as I'd dreamed they would, mostly just shooing me away. I remember one woman who wouldn't even answer her door, opening a second-story window just long enough to fearfully implore me, "Please. Just go." Who did she think I was, the Ghost of Women Future? It was tough not to picture a chain reaction of hair-curlered women, each one calling her neighbor to warn about the kid with the dry-cleaner cardboard survey who was threatening to come their way.
It's odd to me now to think of that little girl: how earnest, how certain she was that what she did mattered!
Funny, I still think that certain things matter. It matters to have opinions on the significant issues challenging our times. It matters, whether we do it literally or figuratively, to register "for" or "against." And it really matters, even if we live in states so far red or blue that it doesn't seem like it matters, to exercise our privilege by getting out there and voting.
I started out by thinking this an unglamorous post. I mean, it's not exactly Gossip Girls, is it? But now I'm thinking it's very glamorous. Standing up and being counted: that's sexy. And there'll be nothing sexier come November 4 than walking out of a polling station with one of those happy little "I voted today!" stickers plastered to your chest. So get out there this year and vote. And if you're not eligible yet? Then imagine your parents are Kevin Costner and make like "Swing Vote" - make sure they vote. Seriously, if you don't, I may have to come knocking at your door with one of my dry-cleaner cardboard surveys.
By the way, my husband Greg Logsted's debut novel is being published today. SOMETHING HAPPENED, a YA novel put out by Simon & Schuster, is about a 13-year-old boy still mourning the death of his father who falls prey to the attentions of a hot English teacher. So please cast your vote for that today as well by purchasing a copy and telling all your friends.
QUESTIONS OF THE DAY: GOT ANY POLITICAL ANECDOTES TO SHARE? OR ANY TALES OF EARNESTLY BELIEVING IN YOUR OWN IMPORTANCE WHEN YOU WERE YOUNG?
Be well. Don't forget to write.