Tuesday, November 07, 2006
Election Day - Happy Birthday To Me
It was kind of bewildering pulling up to my local polling place in Scottsdale today. The cars in the lot were covered with bumper stickers reading “Stop PETA” and “Bush/Cheney.” I’ve known for quite awhile that I stick out like a sore thumb in Phoenix with my homemade dresses and odd fashion sense. Someone came up to me just last week and said to me “you definitely don’t dress like you’re from Phoenix.” I took that as a compliment. Although I feel at home in the Sonoran Desert, I can’t help but feel different in an area that is as homogenous and conservative as Scottsdale/North Phoenix. After all, this is the first place I’ve ever seen someone wearing a t-shirt with the face of Ronald Reagan superimposed on the iconic image of Che Guevara.
This summer I met a couple of my MySpace friends for lunch. I had never seen them in person and as you probably know, people on MySpace don’t always look like their pictures, so I was concerned that I wouldn’t recognize them in a crowd. I had nothing to worry about. My two young friends stood out like exotic, colorfully plumed birds in a room full of gray sparrows. Just looking at them put a smile on my face. I was struck by the colors, patterns, creativity and originality of their appearance, an outward manifestation of their ideas and personalities. I had taken that look for granted when I lived in L.A. and to my surprise I realized that I’d missed it. I guess that’s part of what appeals to me about sewing my own dresses. What I wear is a unique reflection of my personality and background. Wait…does this have anything to do with the election? I guess I just want to paint a picture for you of the extent of the conformity by which I’m surrounded.
I often feel that I live in an ocean of sameness, so my family and I do a lot of traveling to different parts of the state. A couple of weekends ago, I visited Prescott and went to what I thought was an art/yard sale in the backyard of the Catalyst Infoshop, a volunteer run workshop, bookstore and gathering place. They had recently hosted a punk show to benefit Food, Not Bombs. The day I was there, I met some local artists who were bartering and selling their creations and a young man who was giving clothing away to anyone who needed it. The little “arts district” in Prescott had such a good vibe to it that I was shocked to learn that this workshop had been the target of an FBI raid (the owner was arrested and subsequently died in federal custody). It seems sad that in the current climate of fear, such a small group of artists and activists can’t express dissent without the government shutting them down.
Yesterday, my daughter’s sixth grade class staged a mock election. One of the propositions on the Arizona ballot this year is a constitutional amendment defining marriage as the union of a man and a woman. It’s yet another attempt to prevent the legal recognition of same sex unions and put them on a “lesser” level than heterosexual unions. My daughter and her friend (who moved here from New York) were the only two students who voted against this proposition. I was so proud of her, even though going against the grain will probably not endear her to her peers.
I started writing this blog entry in the late afternoon, but because it is my birthday my husband and daughter insisted on taking me out to dinner so I put the writing on hold. On the way to the restaurant my daughter asked me about how I’d voted. I told her that I was sure I’d voted for everything that would be defeated. I’m used to being disappointed on Election Day. In the past, pretty much every candidate and proposition I voted for could be counted on to lose. It’s 9 pm in Arizona and this year, it looks like things may turn out a little different for once. CNN is projecting Democratic control of the House, which means we might have our first ever female Speaker. Wow! What a great birthday present…happy birthday to me!