voting-sheetCONFESSION: I need to start and finish this column in exactly one hour. Deadline is at noon and it is 11 and I just woke up because I have a horrifyingly bad cold and I hadn’t slept much in three nights on account of a terrible cough but last night I did because I got some beautiful medicine from the doctor except I forgot to set my alarm last night so now I have an hour. Usually this sucker takes me two days — the first to write the draft, the second to make sure it’s not too ridiculous. Today I have 60 minutes to do both and I’m not making any promises, especially about the second thing.

It’s a shame too, because I actually have a very interesting topic this week, which is: For the first time since moving to Kentucky I was able to vote yesterday! (NOTE: If I had two days to write this thing, you can be sure I’d remove that exclamation mark because exclamation marks are embarrassing, but right now it seems like a good idea.) Yes, my motivation for wanting to become a citizen was so I could cast my ballot, which I did yesterday with perhaps not too much fanfare, but I’d like to think a bit of panache.

It was my smart friend Tiffany Bourne who first got me on the election bandwagon. She is our community development director and one of her many projects is she built the fountain downtown. If you’ve seen it, you’ll know what I’m talking about, and if you haven’t, trust me when I say that it is pretty spectacular. Also, she didn’t build it herself, like with the bricks and the nails and stuff, but she earned the funding, which is probably more important. Anyhoo, Tiffany, who is likely destined for great things in politics, warned me back in July that I needed to get registered to vote, which I did.

So Tiffany keeps getting me revved up for the election, saying we are going to celebrate with a little drinkie at Tap on Main the night of. Then she sends me two primers about the candidates so I could bone up on the issues, one from the Herald-Leader and one from Vote Kentucky. I’m no expert, but I can say this is a great (fast) way to do your research because it isn’t clouded by negative attacks ads, which only make me want to vote for the other guy/gal because of the uncomfortable angelic lighting (read: head glow) when they’re trying to paint a positive picture and then the disconcerting “Quee, quee, quee!” horror movie music when they don’t.

So, based on these primers, I made my picks and wrote them down because I didn’t want to go blank in the middle of all this.

But before I headed to my voting station, I had to do two important things. One, go to the doctor to make sure I wasn’t dying from flu (she assured me I’m actually not, though I assured her she might be wrong). Second, pancakes. Oh yes, dear readers, think this foodie girl was going to miss out on Rotary Club ‘cakes on this important day? No chance. I’d been dreaming of these for 11 years and now that I was finally part of the club, I could partake.

My friend Becca gave me a free ticket and a few of my wonderful friends actually offered to come and eat them with me. Alas, I was hacking too much to want to risk getting any of my friends sick, so I took the pancakes to go. Oh but they looked adorable riding in my passenger seat, three golden, cratered moons sitting on their Styrofoam plate, accompanied by two disks of sausage. I will forever associate voting with that wonderful heady aroma that filled the car and, for the first time in several days, I felt hungry.

I arrived at the voting station, otherwise known as a school gym, and realized I was a little nervous. No one wants to look like a newbie, especially when you are clearly, so clearly, not 18. But the woman was very helpful and I was immediately envious of her very exacting ruler skills. She had one of those three-dimensional triangular rulers, called an engineer’s triangular scale ruler according to Google, and I found great comfort in watching the fingers of one hand perch on the apex of the triangle as she slid a line across my name with her other hand. When was the last time I’d seen a ruler like that? When was the last time I’d seen someone use a pencil?

I coughed as quietly as I could but it echoed in the empty gym, and a man handed me a ballot. In Pulaski County, they don’t have special machines, like they do in Laurel, and I was a little disappointed by that because I was looking forward to punching a few buttons. Instead, I had to fill in rectangles with ink, which was a little anticlimactic. Not so though when the man told me where to put my ballot: into a machine that sucked it in lickety-split and processed my answers. Pretty neat.

By this time, my energy was depleted. My body was so sore even my eyebrows were complaining. My cough had graduated into a choke. But as I drove home, smelling cinnamon, syrup and sage, feeling good about my choices, anxious to see who would win that night, I felt deeply satisfied. Deeply connected to my community. And proud to be a citizen.

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