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idle chat status
quoth 'free the rest of the night'
stay up till the dawn

I work in a retail shop selling computers. The company just opened a new store and I got transferred. It's been so quiet, I've found myself reaching further and further into the depths of the internet for entertainment. And so I find myself back at Everything2.

It's been a while. The content is still varied, interesting, and intelligent or cruisy as I wish depending on my mood and clicks. I try to vote on a scintillating writeup , but nothing happens. I check my homenode, and apparently my level is no longer high enough. Some investigation reveals I should recalculate my XP. I get my votes back. Casually, I check the rest of my homenode while I'm there and note that my last writeup was from over five years ago.

Five years? Where did the time go? Surely it hasn't been five years. Yet there is the date, July 2003.

Obviously, it's time to start noding again.

I was thinking yesterday, driving home from visiting friends a couple of hours away, about the ways my life has changed since I became pregnant. I think it may have saved my life. It certainly saved me from the wide and winding path I was following, which surely would have led me to alcoholism and other forms of self-destruction. I have never been one for the straight and narrow, but in retrospect I was so far off-course that I'm not sure I could have found new direction without some serious help. That serious help came in the form of an unborn child, and in my dedication to giving that child a healthy start.

For many years, I swore I would never drink. My father is an alcoholic, and his father before him. My mother's brother is an alcoholic, and his father before him. Many people on both sides of my family have struggled with drug abuse and mental illness. I come from families of artists, musicians, academics, and writers. I am not the first to comment that it seems creativity, mental illness, and addictive personality traits come as a set.

I had my first drink at the age of 16, my first cigarette shortly thereafter, and tried marijuana for the first time at the age of 18. But the first of my self-destructive patterns started with sex, at the age of 14. I lost my virginity to the sound of The Grateful Dead's Good Morning Little School Girl. My boyfriend was 18. I was babysitting, and had put my charge to bed early.

By the time I became pregnant, I had had 36 sex partners. I was smoking a pack of Camel Lights and a pack of Djarum Blacks a week. I was smoking an eighth of an ounce of marijuana every two weeks, mostly because that's how often I got paid. On Fridays I'd go out and drink myself stupid. Sometimes I'd go out on Saturday too. In between, I'd come home and have at least a couple of beers on weeknights, and usually at least once during the week I'd polish off a six-pack. Doesn't sound like much, but I was also on antidepressants, which made my body react much more strongly to the alcohol. And that was on work nights.

Everything changed when I found out I was pregnant. You don't drink alcohol when you're pregnant. You just don't. I feel very strongly about this, and I remember being furious when my sister-in-law had a beer when she was pregnant with my niece. "Oh, it's nothing. I'll only have one or two. It helps calm her down." I was livid. Making the baby be still isn't a good thing! So I haven't had a single drink, not even a sip, since I've known I'm pregnant. You don't smoke, either; another thing my sister-in-law did that made me angry. I did have one cigarette after I found out I was pregnant, and I regret even that. I gave in to peer pressure, because I wasn't ready to tell people the real reason I was quitting yet.

My body is not my own right now, and I have even had to stop taking antidepressants and anti-anxiety medications. I am proud of how well I've held it together. Despite being unmedicated for the past six months, and despite added stressors in my life besides the pregnancy itself, I have held a job. I have gotten out of bed most days. I have not completely shut down or self-destructed. To me, this is success.

It felt so good to finally be able to fill in that box next to Obama's name today!

Historic.

Nancy Griffith, in her song "It's a Hard Life Wherever You Go" sums it up best for me:
I was a child in the Sixties
When dreams could be held through T.V.
With Disney and Cronkite and Martin Luther
And I believed, I believed, I believed

On the highway into town there was a truck spun around backward in the fog, some flares on the road and a line of cars backed up on the downbound side. As I waited to vote at the fire station the fire truck arrived back from the accident scene.

The elderly volunteers at check-in had surprising difficulty finding names in alphabetized lists, though that seems to be the norm. My grandmother was a proud poll-worker from before I was born until she couldn't leave the house anymore. Mostly middle-aged-and-older white folks out to vote mid-morning, so I fit right in. Two twenty-something girls were in line behind me. They thought the paper ballots were 'weird' and untrustworthy, liked the former electronic voting because 'you know it has been put in.' Funny how different perceptions can be. I'd forgotten my list of choices for the dozen California Propositions, but had no trouble remembering them. Seeing the words 'deny the right' in black and white on the ballot item for Proposition 8 was galling. Constitutions are about granting rights, not taking them away. With half of all marriages (including my own) ending in divorce, I don't see that there's any 'sanctity' to protect; stable relationships should be encouraged, rewarded even.

On a different curve heading out of town there was a different truck on its side in the fog. Buncha cars pulled over, people milling about. Windshield out, nobody in the truck, nobody lying on the pavement. I didn't stop. Poor cell phone reception thereabouts, but help wasn't far away.

Thought about going in to work after all, instead of working from home and obsessing over election news all day, but Mom and her husband are coming by, in town to visit some gravesites, of all things, and they'll be happier if I'm home.

Voted today. They told me there'd be a long line, but there wasn't.

My old middle school gym hasn't changed much. They still have the old archery safety rules above the basketball hoops. It's a weird moment of nostalgia, which makes feeding the ballot into the machine all that much weirder.

I had forgotten that the gym has a stage at one end built into the wall. I had forgotten the little room at one end with all the sports supplies. I had forgotten the stairs that lead to the class rooms. I had forgotten the bright glow of the halogens.

Sometimes you come along way from where you started, and when you get back to where you once were you realize you didn't really travel that far at all. I've lived within walking distance of my old middle school for almost all my life and yet I feel that I'm very far away from it and gaining distance all the time.

I am surprised there is not more written in here, because today is a day when the cliche of history in the making is totally true. In the United States, a nation-wide election for many offices, including President, is going on, and in some places the counting has already begin. The election won't actually wrap up until well into November 5th, 2008 server time, But I want to enter something here because this is the day, and the calm before the storm is also strong, after months and years of worrying and anger.
The numbers seem to be well in favor of the candidate I am supporting, Barack Obama, but I am stil nervous. After eight years of what feels like a suspension from reality, and a clique of Republicans getting away with so much, it is hard to believe if the reckoning really happened. I will feel better in an hour or two, when the results from Virginia come in. This election season has certainly fed my internet addiction, and today is driving that into high gear. google news currently shows McCain up on Obama 2,740 to 1,685, a fairly meaningless result since it comes from the first polls to close in Indiana and Kentucky.
I try to be non-partisan and reasonable, but the sports fan who has had their team disqualified too many times by bad calls is bubbling up on me. After this election is over, we will move on to the future. Right now, I must admit that part of me is seeking nothing so much as revenge.

In 2004, Ken Blackwell was Ohio's Secretary of State, which in Ohio makes him the state's top election official. Blackwell's career was one of unrelenting partisanship mixed with two cups of contempt. In 2004 he was also the Chair of the Ohio campaign to re-elect George W. Bush.

My neighborhood is mostly modest single family homes, most under 1,000 square feet, which is quite small by American standards. It's mostly white but integrating, and considered working class economically. It's the sort of neighborhood carried by people like Ronald Reagan but leans Democratic. 2004 was supposed to be a close election, and it was. There were two voting machines in my precinct, and even though I got to the polls about two in the afternoon, I had to wait in line for three hours to cast my vote.

Today, I left for the polls after work. I took a book with me to occupy me while I waited in line. But in 2008, the Secretary of State is Jennifer Brunner, a Democrat. Today there were ten voting machines, and there was no waiting at all. The number of poll workers had tripled, and just in case you think it was a slow day, all the machines were in constant use. I didn't get to read my book, which does not displease me. I like Braunbeck, but he's much more enjoyably read from my couch.

More importantly, as i write this it appears that Ohio has chosen Barack Obama by numbers much larger than the polls indicated. I think that for the first time in too long, we may have a President who uses his brain.

Yeeeeee-fucking ha!

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