Incisive neighbor: “Wow the ER is nothing like on TV.”

Doctor: “Yeah, we’re not all good-looking, and nobody’s having sex in the closet.”

That exchange took place while I was sitting on the ER bed, waiting for a tetanus shot and anticipating stitches. It was the first time I’d had stitches (not including surgeries), so I asked the doctor if I could watch. I managed to watch for a couple of stitches, but then the combination of my cut-open finger, the blood, and the needle going through my skin became just too much to bear.

So what the hell happened? It happened so fast, I couldn’t tell you. I was shaking a bottle of salad dressing, it slipped out of my hand, I tried to catch it. Next thing I knew, I felt some pain. I looked at my hand and saw a cut. Then it started bleeding. A lot. I’m proud to report that I had the presence of mind to put a towel and some pressure on my finger, and to turn off the oven and take the food out. I thought I’d wait a second to see if the bleeding would stop, but when I removed the towel, the depth of the cut freaked me out. I knew I would need stitches.

I knocked on my neighbor’s door and she walked with me to the firehouse. The guys were happy for a diversion, but they wouldn’t stitch me. They gauzed me up and offered an ambulance. Instead of sirens and melodrama, I let my neighbor drive me (in my car; of course the one neighbor who was home doesn’t own a car and hasn’t driven a stick-shift in a long time) to the ER. Luckily, Tuesday in Burlingame is a slow night, and the gauze was already blood soaked, so I moved to the front. A few x-rays, a couple of shots, and five or six stitches later, and I was almost good as new. Well, except that I look like Frankenfinger.

(BTW, after the firehouse, I went back into apartment to get insurance card, etc. I went back to the sink and figured out that the salad dressing bottle hit a pyrex bowl in the sink, breaking the rim. I don’t know if a shard came up and stabbed me, or if my hand slipped down over the jagged edge. All I know is ouch. The med tech said that besides power tools, glass cuts are the worst. Oh, and I know that my neighbor is a sweetheart. I owe her cookies.)

As jaded as I can feel at times about politics, and as much as I am reticent to talk politics, I get totally excited when I go to vote.  Today will be historic no matter which presidential candidate wins, but every time I vote, I feel lucky and grateful to live in a country with free elections.  I can just breeze in on my lunch hour, give my address to the sweet volunteers, and proceed to privately register my vote!  I don’t have to fear for anything, I don’t have to bribe anyone (or be bribed), and I don’t even have to tell anyone for whom or for what I voted.  That’s not something to take for granted.

And though my parents’ votes pretty much cancel out mine, I have them to thank for my love of voting.  They used to take me with them when they voted, back in the days of the big ballot booths, with the curtain and the giant voting swtiches.  Dad would let me pull the switches: “That one” and “Now that one.”  He’d double-check his votes and let me pull the final lever that tallied them all in a big clatter and swung the curtain open like magic.  It was all so fun and mysterious, even though I didn’t understand the power of voting then.  All of that goes with me when I go to the polls, and though it’s just a little table now, it has that same aura for me.  No absentee ballot!  I want to feel the power of the polling place, see my fellow citizens taking part of the process, and get high on democracy.