Archive for September, 2008

Elected

September 30, 2008

September 12, 2008

I am now an elected official. Two days ago, I was one of 294 people elected to serve as a member of the Ramapo Democratic Committee. For the next two years, I shall be part of the body that nominates candidates and establishes policy for the Democratic Party for the town in which I live, Ramapo, New York.

I campaigned for this office. I didn’t have to kiss any babies or give any stump speeches, but I did knock on doors, shake some hands and make a lot of phone calls. On two occasions, one of my running mates and I (there were four of us) went door-to-door, asking our neighbors for their votes. You meet all kinds doing this.

Some people are deeply engaged. They know the issues, and the players. They pulled out the postcards sent by both the organization I am affiliated with (Ramapo Democrats For Change) and our opposition. Once I was invited into a home, asked to sit on the sofa and explain how my running mates and I were going to bring about change if two of the four were married to each other. Some people were vaguely aware of the election and issues, and others were clueless, and looked at me as if I was speaking Hungarian.

When the polls closed at 9:00 on Tuesday night, it was all worth it. The hours of going door-to-door, and calling potential supporters had bourn juicy fruit. My running mates and I defeated our opponents by a 6 to 1 margin. I had been appointed poll watcher for our district, and got the final tallies straight off the machines within minutes of the polls closing. I was the first to know. As I drove to our election night party at a local Italian restaurant, I was elated. I couldn’t get there fast enough to share the good news. I had a big, dopey smile on my face, and pumped my fist the entire trip.

I had run for office twice before, both times for Fire Commissioner, and both times I had been defeated by someone I believed to be a lesser (i.e., not as qualified) candidate. This night I had won, and it felt great.

I get to work next week, attending a meeting of the county Democratic Committee, which I’ve been forewarned could be contentious. Not to sound like the Governor of Alaska, but I’m ready. (And I really am.)

Yankee Stadium End Game

September 30, 2008

Last Saturday afternoon (9/20), J. and I went to the penultimate game in Yankee Stadium. It was a beautiful, sunny afternoon with a sell-out crowd. There was a palpable atmosphere of festiveness.

Security was especially tight. The sidewalks along River Avenue had been barricaded, keeping the streams of fans off the street and on the sidewalk. Stay with the herd. There were uniform cops everywhere, and a NYPD helicopter circled the perimeter of the stadium throughout the game. J. was especially intrigued by this.

At various points during the game, there were announcements about respecting the historic significance of this weekend, and not doing anything that might damper the wonder of the moment. Specifically, we were advised, theft of any Yankee Stadium property would be considered a crime and result in prosecution. I had heard about this earlier. That there were four times the usual amount of security personnel (both uniformed and under cover) in the stadium for the final weekend. I had heard news reports of fans trying to take a piece of Yankee Stadium home as a souvenir. Some people were reportedly trying to steal toilet seats. Honestly, I can’t imagine a possession I’d desire less.

The game itself lived up to the greatness of the day. The Yanks took a scoreless tie into the bottom of the ninth. With bases loaded and two out, Robinson Cano singled up the middle for the victory. A classic.

Before filing out of the Big Ballpark In The Bronx for the last time, I reached below my seat, and pried up a few pebbles from where the concrete had been cracked. I wanted to make sure I left with my little piece of history. Before heading into the tunnel under the stands, I turned around and took one last look at that gorgeous expanse of green. I waved the field goodbye, and thanked it for 30 years of great memories. I would be lying if I said I wasn’t a little misty-eyed at the moment.

Change is inevitable (though it’s maddening when it’s not really necessary and at taxpayer expense).The Yanks will be in the new stadium next year, and I’ll be there, too, but there will always be a special place in my heart for The House That Ruth Built.

The Hand Off

September 1, 2008

This weekend C. and I delivered B. to college. We moved him into his dorm room, helped him secure his meal plan, pick up his student ID, set up a bank account, buy his books…the complete disaster.

B. was uneasy throughout the process, champing at the bit, anxious to shoo his parents off like stragglers in a bar after closing time. I didn’t take it personally. I felt exactly the same way 31 years ago when I was the one moving into a dorm room. Fine, I love you, thanks for bringing me up these past 18 years, now go, go, go…get in the car and let me start figuring this thing out.

We came back to campus the next day for a parents’ orientation seminar—something they didn’t have when I was a Freshman, but was actually somewhat informative and helpful. By Day Two, B. seemed to have formed a fast relationship with his two roommates, and was already complaining about the food (I think he’d had one meal in the dining hall).

He also complained about his Orientation Counselor. He complained about the weather (which was, in all honestly, kinda crummy). All this complaining made the next thing we had to do that much easier. After helping him schlep a few more supplies up to his room, it was time for us to bid our firstborn child goodbye (at least for a while). We pulled him out of his room, so his roommates would be spared the scene, and I talked to him in the cinderblock hallway. I reminded him about the sacrifices many people had made for him to be there, and how proud of him we were. I encouraged him to keep an open mind and stretch beyond his comfort zone. I stressed to him the importance of making good decisions—regarding time management, studying, partying, friends, money—everything. C. and I each gave him a final hug, he went back into his room, and we descended the cement staircase.

Considering what a soft touch I am with emotional situations, it’s a miracle that I didn’t tear up like the Nile at that point, but I didn’t. For one thing, B. made it easier when he said this was really not much more than just going to camp (something he’d done for many summers), and that we were going to see him again in a month (at Family Weekend). I think another reason is that this just feels like such a natural progression to me. It would be like crying at the changing of a season.

B. has been fiercely independent for many years, and has pretty much come and gone through the house on his own schedule for months now, so not having him around the house on our first day back doesn’t feel that strange. I’m sure the enormity of his absence will hit me in the coming days and weeks. This is a huge rite of passage. The handing off of a child from childhood to semi-adulthood (and semi-childhood), but right now this doesn’t feel momentous. It feels natural.