At this moment, a shrill dog is yelping outside my building. Shrill, so that it sounds like a bunch of little kids screeching with that inexplicable little-kid pleasure in making intolerable noise.
But it’s probably a dog. Lot of dogs in my Upper West Side neighborhood.
This day began last night when, at 8 or so, I called my brother, Ethan, to ask if he wanted to watch the elections with me tonight.
Always, always I prefer to spend high tension hours alone–football games, debates, elections. But for this election I was liking the idea of having my brother over for the event. “I’m going to make chili,” I told him.
He began to chuckle. “Ellen [his business partner and our friend, Ellen Kaye] used the exact same words a while ago.”
“She’s making chili, too?” I asked. Yep, she is.
So Eth will watch the returns and eat his chili with Ellen.
This morning–what passes for “morning” given my circadian rhythm–I did my exercises on my late mother’s old rug. It’s thick and cozy, makes a perfect exercise mat.
My mom’s taste was American colonial and that’s the hand-hooked rug’s design. My taste evolved to deco, where it settled happily, reinforced every day of my life by my gloriously deco city. But when my stepmother died, I claimed that rug because it was my mother’s.
As I stretched on her rug, I thought about her, Esther Finkelstein Fein. She was born before American women could vote.
I tend to be externally stoical. That’s my inheritance from my father. So it’s difficult to delve into and make words out of my emotions today. I am furiously aware how the horrific threat and performance of Trump spewed out such a miasma, it cut the light off this most significant election, overshadowing the fact that there was a terrific lady for whom I am thrilled to vote. A woman. First time.
My polling place is across the street. I prepared, loaded the latest New Yorker into my tote in case the line was long and I needed reading matter. I wanted the line to be long.
I got over there at 2. There was no line. I was greatly disappointed but when I asked the poll workers, I was assured the line had been out the building earlier in the morning. That made me feel better.
Many of us New Yorkers miss our clunky curtained voting booths, each as big as one of my closets. But I worked in offices for many years and eagerly jumped into computers as soon as they were installed at Forbes Magazine, where I then worked. So I have no problem with New York’s current method–darkening little circles on a paper ballot, and then feeding it into a scanner.
I breathed deeply as I filled in the Clinton-Kaine circle. Deeply. Although I’d heard that some equipment was failing elsewhere in the city, ours did not. I looked around for the “I Voted” stickers. They were seriously depleted but I found one and pasted it on my bag. (My sticker has a Statue of Liberty. Does yours? Or is she only for us New Yorkers?)
Then I went to Citarella and bought the ingredients for my chili. All vegetables except for some prosciutto, cut fine, for that soupςon of salty flavor. I will debate with myself what herbs and spices I’ll throw in.
Just realized I forgot to calculate what liquid I’m going to use in the chili. Should I go out for beer or open a bottle of red wine? Not sure yet.
I’m writing this pretty flat. I’d rather not. I’d rather be expressing myself somewhere between that screaming little dog and Hillary Clinton, during her debates with Trump. Somewhere around what happened in the autumn of 1955, when the Brooklyn Dodgers won the World Series. Yes, something like that.
That was immense for me, a formative experience: the idea the perpetual underdog could win, eventually. And then the radical wrench when a couple of years later the Dodgers went west and deserted me.
Ecstasy and then a different reality: a beloved can tear you apart.
As I’ve grown up, both experiences–moderated and deepened to conform to my intellectual maturity–have been useful applications to politics. Ideals will be held forth like campaign signs, ideals will be compromised. The signs will be lowered.
I will cope–without rage, without pure ecstasy.
Anyway, I voted for the first woman President of my country. It helps.