Word to your mother (and father) (and Gail Collins)

There are only three things that could get my parents to leave the house on a weeknight after the hour of 8PM:

A family emergency
A Doobie Brothers concert
A TimesTalks event

The New York Times Presents:

TimesTalks Presents Election Night Live at TheTimesCenter

Tuesday, Nov 04, 2008 6:00 PM EST
at TimesCenter Stage

Spend Election Night LIVE at The New York Times.

Get insight and perspective on the battle for the White House from key New York Times political reporters and editors, including executive editor Bill Keller, managing editor Jill Abramson, assistant managing editor Richard L. Berke, editorial page editor Andrew M. Rosenthal, Op-Ed columnists Gail Collins and Frank Rich, national political correspondent Adam Nagourney and others.

Discussion moderated by Times Magazine contributing writer Matt Bai, author of “The Argument: Inside the Battle to Remake Democratic Politics,” with Sam Roberts, Times reporter and host of NY-1’s “New York Close-Up.”

Discussion: 6 – 8 PM
All-American Food & Drink plus Televised Returns: 8 – 10 PM

And so I will be spending Election Night with my mom and dad, Gail Collins, Bill Keller, Jill Abramson, and other members of the Times Editorial and Opinion teams.  I wonder how they’re planning to get us to leave at 10PM?  You know the results won’t be final by then.

My first question: Do I get to dress up?  I have a navy blue, semi-formal dress that would look just splendid in the red and blue light cast by the U.S. Electoral map!

This is the last you’ll hear about it from me

I wrote an e-mail today “to the many members of my urban tribe.”  I’ll write the same message here to visitors, feed readers, friends, foes, and to tribe members not in my Gmail address book:

This is merely a reminder, a gentle prod to your ribs, and not a politically partisan overture.

I get a paycheck and health benefits, recycle, pay taxes, and have been called for jury duty in New York State. I’m still registered to vote in Connecticut. For the rest of you who have relocated to a new state since you first registered to vote or since the election in 2004—it is not too late to register to vote in your new state or to request an absentee ballot from your home state for the Presidential General Election on November 4.

I requested an absentee ballot from my home town clerk by mail last week. This website walked me through it: Long Distance Voter. It was easy. Seriously. If you’re looking for a challenge, get your voting rights squared away and then come by and help me try to fit all my clothes into my closet.

I would consider either one a personal favor.

To expand:

In a way, Republican candidate Senator John McCain inspired this general petition to exercise your voting rights. Today, he opted to participate in the debate with his opponent, acceding in his actions if not with his words that, as Barack Obama said, “it’s more important than ever that we present ourselves to the American people and try to describe where we want to take the country.”

But in fact, John McCain first inspired this message when I met him four years ago, less than one month before the 2004 Presidential election.  By chance, we were seated at the same table at a bicentennial celebration at the Naval Academy Prep School in Newport, Rhode Island.

He introduced himself and then asked my two friends and me, all three of us Mount Holyoke students, if we knew who we’d vote for.  One declared herself undecided; the other said, “pass;” I said that I would vote for his party’s opponent, John Kerry, because I preferred his positions on education and the environment.

McCain told us that it’s important for young adults to know which issues matter to them and to vote accordingly; that it’s important for us, as young women, to cast our votes.

I did vote, Senator, and I am voting again.

Imaginando la ciudad fantasma

The Chaitén volcano in Chile erupted—continues to erupt—this week.

And once, I was there.

It’s hard to admit now that, before I fell asleep that night, I rolled over in my sleeping bag and pressed my hands into the soft black sand and thought it was special, a beautiful thing, to walk on a volcanic beach. I wanted that to be my last thought before I slept. I wanted to end the day on that feeling, to epitomize the day with that special thing I got to do, the special place I got to be.

It’s hard to think about people evacuating their homes in Chaitén and wonder where everyone was on the night I was there. I saw people at the restaurant and a few at the market, but—thousands of evacuees? It’s as though the eruption roused them just to chase them out of the woodwork.

It’s hard to read about the irreversible devastation, the abrupt loss of flora and fauna, the halt to the agricultural industry, when the volcano seemed to me the gentle face of Mother Earth on that one night. Now I remember, the sand was so brutally black.

Nothing can stop a natural disaster like a volcanic eruption. No one can anticipate it, though now it seems like it will be impossible not to just wait for the next one, even if it takes another nine thousand years.

Here is a collection of photos of the violent eruption as the volcano’s contents sparked into a “dirty thunderstorm” taken by United Press International photographer Carlos Gutierrez: Tormenta eléctrica en erupción del volcán Chaitén. The caption translates to, “The startling (moving) beauty of two natural phenomena. An electrical storm (thunderstorm) above the gigantic column of ash that rises from the Chaitén volcano, reaching an altitude of 14 kilometers.”

Why couldn’t he have worn the sweater that I picked out for him?

Can you find the future world leader in this photo from this past Tuesday’s New York Times?

Photo by Damon Winter, The New York Times

Here he is:


That’s my little brother Will at Barack Obama’s rally at American University on Tuesday. My dad spotted him in this photo in the first section of the Times. It’s also on the NYT Caucus blog: Obama, Kennedys Resonate with Youth.

And now I’m the only member of my family who hasn’t made a nearly negligible appearance in the Gray Lady.

P.S. Will brought his own camera to the big event on his campus (he sort of looks like he’s scoping an angle in the Times photo).  His best shots are of AU a capella group On a Sensual Note, but this is my favorite photo of actual political personalities.

Photo by Will White, My Brother