Saturday night was long and full of mercies. Little Paige Austin Milosevich, all of 13 weeks old, slept and ate and played in the care of us, her grandparents. We are playing at a layer of parenting we didn’t enjoy while Abby and I became a couple. Paige was not feeling well, congested and running a temperature this latest Saturday. We didn’t panic, but didn’t sleep very long at a stretch, either. When a tiny girl cries you do whatever you can to supply mercy and minister to her, even if it’s only to hold her and walk in the dark, whispering the names of zoo animals who are asleep at 4:40 in the morning.
The weekend was short and full of miracles. The tiny fingers with even smaller nails, grasping and flexing and not yet picking up todays or food. Most of the former was furry and soft, or spinning and colored like a carnival. Most of the latter — well, all of it — came from a bottle, warmed in a 2-minute heater and supplied as often as we could get her to drink it. The coos that come from her throat when she’s relaxing around a nipple, breathing a sigh of relief that we can both feel, grandparent and child alike.
Strong arms in the weekend wrapped around weak hearts, the heart of a baby thumping for comfort, the weak light of daybreak slipping hope and tender smiles under the bedroom shutters. We slept and walked and changed diapers and rocked her in broad arms, jiggling and bouncing the swaddled person who will become a teenaged siren, someone’s mate, a mother herself if she chooses that gift. She will walk her own nights then, following in our footsteps, maybe across a narrow strip of carpet between bed and dresser, doing an about-face and retracing a path that she, that we, have known before.
They are lessons of love we learn together, me and Abby and Paige. Me and my bride learn we can serve together, each calm and patient with the other, even in the dimmest part of our nights when fatigue sits in the small of our backs. Paige learns from us that her cries will bring response and respite. We all practice the sharing of smiles, the singing of songs, sending the signals of love.
It’s easier to care for an infant who is feeling well. I’m glad we had a few Saturday nights like that together before this more advanced class of compassion. We show our love for Paige, so anyone can see it. But Abby and I also demonstrate our devotion to each other and the promise of love that will outlive us in memories, bright acts that light up the cradling and walking through the dark.
After doing a little work on the Monsignor Dad book this morning, I’ve been searching for new tools to write with on the iPad. Even before the UPS fella dropped off mine on Day One of release, I bought Apple’s Pages, and its been adequate. Reaching for a document that’s on the iPad is complex, though. I have SimpleNote loaded up — free, in a basic version — but haven’t written a word into it yet.
A major factor in choosing the best tool is Keyboard Dock compatibility. This spring I bought a raft of tools like this $75 hunk of plastic and metal that lets me write as if I was on my iMac. Some of the writing tools for the iPad, like Docs To Go, don’t support the arrow keys on the Keyboard. Not good. It’s clumsy to stay on the keyboard to write and then need to interact with the screen to move a cursor up, down or around.
Oddly enough, a simple WordPress blog might be one of the best ways to compose first drafts for journals. Yes, you need a connection to the Internet, so this wouldn’t be your choice to write on a train ride or in the park without 3G coverage. But as a working sandbox, a lot like this blog, WordPress.com once again gives the people something good for free
Abby joined me in the social network revolution this morning. It was her choice, but once Oprah did a Twitter show (Ashton Kutcher brags about getting to 1 million followers faster than CNN) she decided to join up. I’m @ronseybold, she’s @abbylentz
Oh, it probably helps that she’s got her first iPhone today, too. Happy Birthday, sweetheart.
It’s hard to say if we’ll have both of us on Facebook. Feeding these maws, whether they’re blogs or the social nets, takes time. But it’s becoming so popular that it could pass for genuine social intercourse. It depends on how authentic you want your profile to look. Twitter is gaining ground on Facebook for members. Me, I’ve got my Twitter tweets updating to the Facebook page. The automation is bound to get better as these outlets get more popular.
There’s a Facebook virus out there, of course. You can’t create any biological organism without a risk of infection. Rub dirt in it. Privacy is so 20th Century.
I just got news that a friend died, early at 63. Wirt Atmar was vital to the very end, a big part of a community of HP 3000 computer users. This fellow held aloft such a bright light for decades there. And like any death too soon, it makes me consider what I’ve done this week, and try to do more, believe more, love and enjoy more.
What’s too soon? Definitely any week where you’re still pushing out belief, research, teaching or passion. Wirt had all of these on offer this week. And now I regret never having visited him in his hometown of Las Cruces. A great reason to put more friends oton my travel list. So perhaps death can move a fellow to do more travel, more sharing, and keep fit to enjoy many more years.
All I can add is a moment of silence in memory of a good guy’s light winking out.
As it turns out, sporting my Obama t-shirt at the early voting booth was illegal. In Texas it’s a misdemeanor to wear campaign clothing in the polling area. It took my friend and fellow workshop member Cindy Morgan to set me straight:
I worked as a Democratic election judge for several years and that jerk at your polling place was right. We were specifically told to not allow into the polling place any signs, t-shirts, buttons, etc. that indicated voter preference. As much as I love Obama, too, you committed a Class C Misdemeanor by wearing your Obama t-shirt to the polls. Statute below.
TITLE 6. CONDUCT OF ELECTIONS
CHAPTER 61. CONDUCT OF VOTING GENERALLY
Sec. 61.010. WEARING NAME TAG OR BADGE IN POLLING PLACE. (a) Except as provided by Subsection (b), a person may not wear a badge, insignia, emblem, or other similar communicative device relating to a candidate, measure, or political party appearing on the ballot, or to the conduct of the election, in the polling place or within 100 feet of any outside door through which a voter may enter the building in which the polling place is located.
(b) An election judge, an election clerk, a state or federal election inspector, a certified peace officer, or a special peace officer appointed for the polling place by the presiding judge shall wear while on duty in the area described by Subsection (a) a tag or official badge that indicates the person’s name and title or position.
(c) A person commits an offense if the person violates Subsection (a). An offense under this subsection is a Class C misdemeanor.
See how easy that was? Admitting that you have been incorrect doesn’t hurt. It is a way to practice awareness. Besides, I have a much more partisan shirt I wore all the time over the last 72 hours of the campaign. It exhorts you to vote. Pretty important, considering that getting to 60 million votes is important to winning the Presidency.
It might be getting ugly out there in the balloting for President. A McCain supporter advised me today What Not to Wear. I showed up to vote in the least obvious Obama shirt that I own (the other says “Vote Nov. 4” in Democratic Blue, with Obama/Biden in yellow type), but the logo on my garment today was unmistakable. Especially to the fellow standing at the exit of the voting line at our local grocery, which doubles as an early Travis County voting location here in Texas. I made a point of talking with everyone who was working the election, judge, clerks, volunteers, all while wearing my shirt.
I thought of it like I was wearing a Spurs t-shirt to a basketball game in San Antonio. But when I pass my fellow citizen, he mutters something toward me that includes the word “shit.” I step a few paces along my way, then realize he must have been addressing me. Sure enough, I turn around and see him glaring at me.
I walk back and ask him, “Excuse me, did you just say something to me?”
“You need to take that shit off,” he says, eyeing my shirt. “It’s illegal.”
“So do you think we should take it up with the election judge?” At this suggestion he grows quiet, but the glower is still on his face. “Because we can do that if you want.”
“It’s illegal,” he repeats to me, as certain as any Fox News huckster shouting down a TV guest. At this point his wife, who he’s been waiting for, walks past the two of us and mutters to him, “C’mon.”
He walks alongside his wife and I call out after him, “God bless you.” Because whatever we disagree on, it seems he needs a blessing today. Election turnout has been heavy, which has rarely been a good sign for Republican supporters in years past. His reply to my “God bless you,” muttered over his shoulder, freezes me a little.
“You don’t know enough about God to say that!” And at that, I repeat my blessing to him, a little louder. But I’m rattled, as if I am a Spurs fan wearing a jersey to Boston Garden for a Celtics game.
Our little exit poll exchange has nothing to do with the outcome here in Texas, and both of us probably know that. I live in the Blue Island (Travis County) of a Very Red State. This is no battleground; we haven’t seen either McCain or Obama since March here. No local TV ads, either, or even robo-calls. McCain wins Texas next month, barring a miracle. But both the McCain fellow and I get to have our say today.
And both of us get to wear our shirts, at least at this polling place. The Republicans are now working in battleground states to keep the shirts off the backs of voters, in violation of the First Amendment. But that’s an Amendment that’s been trampled for so long that even as a journalist, making my living for 25 years off that law, that I tire of defending it. We are already hearing about how McCain will lose this election because of the stock market crash, along with the claims of voter registration fraud via ACORN. There are even worse things being said about Obama — (Muslim, not native American, nonsense and slurs) by well-heeled media pros and rank amateurs, according to this month’s Harper’s magazine.
While my fellow citizen sidled away, his Harley-Davidson dress shirt ruffling off his 50-ish frame, I couldn’t help but think there will be some sore losers out there on Nov. 4. It is not electioneering to wear a t-shirt to the voting booth unless a judge tells you to take it off. There’s no state law that defines this, in Texas or anyplace else, yet.
But it could get ugly out there in the next two weeks. Early voting was up 50 percent on Opening Day yesterday in Travis County, a massive increase. Even the election judge at the grocery was boasting of the heavy turnout. That will mean a 75 percent turnout nationally, if the trend holds across the US.
Go vote, and wear whatever you want. But bring another shirt in the car, just in case the First Amendment is getting “shit” upon at your polling place. You might want to remember that everyone knows their own God well enough to offer a blessing, no matter what kind of shirt you display. As for me, I think the US Constitution is enough law to make everybody dump the foul speech — which will keep us all divided — away from the voting sites.