27 October 2016

I'm not forcing me to read this.

Dear diary,

Hating everything is a way of loving what I wish everything were. Is that bad to admit? I love what I feel everything might possibly be; and the fact that the world falls short of my expectations (or can I say: my remembrance?) enkindles my disgust.

Does your mind retain knowledge of a creation that throve before its current existence? Were you awake and in possession of ampler memory prior to your birth? For any individual, what does it mean—the phrase “prior to birth”? How is it different from claiming that I was your grandmother’s grandmother? Or the wood of a cello? Can a person be both alive and dead simultaneously, or must the states take turns? Why do only certain things play fair?

I think I’ve been at odds with my life’s Star since pre-birth. I don’t mean this as a joke, but, having said it, I now realize that the line would fit well in a stand-up comedy routine. The audience would roar with laughter, and the thrill of having pleased them would electrify me: I would quit my job as a steelworker and dedicate my life to being a funnyman. Then I would get hired to play a part in a dramatic movie, and critics would remark on the versatility of my talent, since I am good at both serious roles AND slapstick.

I’ll give four lines from the famous “Ode” by Wordsworth, and then I’ll tell you about my experience with absentee voting. Our “soul that rises with us, our life’s star,” according to the poet, which has “had elsewhere its setting,” eventually reaches us from a galaxy far, far away:

Not in entire forgetfulness,
And not in utter nakedness,
But trailing clouds of glory do we come
From God, who is our home…

So this must be why I hate everything so deeply. There’s a memory leak from my Soul-Star to its mortal body, which makes me view the world through gloom-tinted shades. Our wilted reality might not seem so appalling if I could only lose my remembrance of its former blossom. And by “former” I mean long, long ago. (Not in this lifetime.)

But if God equals pre-existence, and all of the living are homeless, then is God the same as death, and is death our true home? If not, what is the difference?

Anyway, I ordered an absentee ballot from the state of Minnesota. That’s where I live. It’s one of the states in America: just west of Wisconsin. (I was born in Wisconsin, but I don’t remember that place, because my family moved to MN when I was a toddler.) I have participated in elections here before, so I assumed that I was currently registered to vote; but it turns out that, since I have not voted in recent years, my registration had been revoked. (This was in accordance with the law of the land.) So, along with my ballot, the state sent me a voter registration form and told me to fill it out. This form said that I could complete the thing online, so I went online and completed the thing. It was fun.

After a couple days, I received an email from the state’s office telling me that my form had been processed and accepted: Congratulations, dear Bryan, you are now a registered voter.

So I filled out my absentee ballot and mailed it with a kiss.

Then a couple weeks later I receive this envelope in the mail that says “Replacement Ballot Enclosed”; and there’s a letter explaining that my previous ballot was rejected because I did not include the voter registration form.

So I called and explained to the Elections Staff Representative that I registered online and even waited to receive confirmation that my registration had been certified before I mailed my absentee ballot; so it should not have been rejected for lack of the paper form: the paper form was redundant and unnecessary, as I am already registered.

The Elections Staff Representative answered that she did not know what to advise me, so she put me on hold. (I had to listen to a flimsy drowsy lazy soft guitar song for more than six minutes, because that’s what their help line plays when you’re put on hold.)

Then I had to explain my case all over again to the SENIOR ELECTIONS STAFF REPRESENTATIVE BRANCH SUPERVISOR. After hearing my case, she said, very politely: “My advice to you is this: Complete the paper registration form as well as the replacement ballot; then mail them together, and they will be accepted.”

I said: “But I’m already registered—I have confirmation from the state itself in an email, and they even sent a formal card stating the same.” (For in the meantime, the state had sent a physical postcard to my mailbox proclaiming me an officially registered voter.)

“Well you’re still apparently un-registered in the records that the ballot judges are using,” said the SENIOR ELECTIONS STAFF REPRESENTATIVE BRANCH SUPERVISOR. So I asked, “Why are the ballot judges using a different database than the state? For I’ve just logged on to the state’s own authorized website and there’s a link that says Click here to check if you are registered, and I entered my information and it says that I AM.”

“It might be that your status is just taking a little longer to get updated in the Ballot Council’s records,” she said.

“It’s been three weeks since I received the confirmation of my registration. How much time does their system need to become updated and current? And what good is it for the state to tell me that I’m officially registered, if the people who are handling the ballots are unaware of the fact? Why offer an option to complete the registration online if the ballot council only accepts physical paper?”

“No, I’m sorry, you were right to register online: they should accept that—everything you did was right. There must have just been a glitch in the computer. Those things happen.”

“A glitch?”

“Yes, those things happen. I’ll tell you what. Let me contact so-and-so from such-and-such department, and I’ll call you back. Can I call you back?”

So three point five hours later she left a message on my voicemail, saying: “Yeah, it’s what I thought: the registration was just a little late reaching the council’s computers, but they claim that you’re registered now: so just fill out the ballot as you did before, and mail it again—but you don’t have to include the paper registration form with your ballot.”

So I included the paper registration form with my ballot; and I wrote a message on the form, in thick permanent felt-tip marker that stinks. (Later that afternoon, before I had sealed everything in the envelope, I was eating lunch at my desk, and I kept wondering: Why does this salad smell so strange? But then I saw the registration form nearby, and that solved the mystery.)

I am sorry that I wrote so much about this tedious problem.

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