Coming Soon: Stories from the Road

I’m on a road trip through mid-America, stopping often for obscure history lessons, local characters, breweries, and of course, candy cigarettes. I’m learning just how amazing America is, one stop at a time.

Stay tuned for my Stories from the Road.

–Jody

Stories from the Road

Election Day Stories

Election DayHappy Election Day! I’ve put together some of my own Election Day stories, from what’s happened to me at the polls to how I got there:

  • In the mid 1990’s, when I waited tables at a truck stop Denny’s in Pennsylvania, we were the only Denny’s I’d ever heard of that served beer and wine. But on Election Day, we had to wait until the polls closed before we were permitted to serve alcohol to anyone. Over the years the law was interpreted in various ways, and depending on percentages of alcohol sales, some bars and businesses weren’t allowed to serve at all while others were allowed to serve after 9 p.m. The law has since been changed to allow alcohol sales all day long, although I did see an article dated as recently as 2012 that said South Carolina and Kentucky still operated under the restricted laws.
  • When I was in college, my parents would pick me up from school and drive me home so I could vote on Election Day. Then they’d promptly return me to school again.
  • Back when I was married, I went to the voting location according to where I lived, but they didn’t have me on the list. I’d updated my name, my license, and my address, but somehow, none of it updated my voter location. The volunteers at the polls told me I needed to prove my address, either with a bill that had my name on it (which I did not have) or I could have my husband come in and vouch for my address. I thanked them and went on my way—my way being straight to my previous voting location a few blocks in the other direction, the entire time muttering things like, “If my man will vouch for me, I can vote?? What is this, 1920*?”
    The voting location connected to my previous apartment address still had me listed with them, so I cast my ballot, collected my sticker, and felt good for circumventing the system—especially without needing help.
  • Twice, once in Minnesota and once today here in Pennsylvania, I checked in to vote and was met with, “Oh, of course. You wrote a book!”

Regardless of the outcomes today, I’m sure we all agree that we’re done with dinnertime election calls and candidate mud-slinging. Personally, I’m ready for the day when all political ads have to disclose where they got their mud-slinging information and how they computed their blanket statements—you know, the day where a non-attorney spokesperson has to read aloud the fine print on claims for prosperity and change similar to the way pharmaceuticals have to disclose the laundry list of side effects. “We’re selling a smart-inducing drug that causes headaches and temporary shrinkage of brain cells and some people may grow tails. We’re really overcharging for it, and we approved this message.” Now that’s entertainment.

I’m Jody Brown. I wrote a book. And I approved this message.

*Women were granted the right to vote in August 1920.

We the People, on September 11

We the People, Sept 11In 1787, the Constitution was written. We became “We the People.”

And We the People have been fighting wars all ever since. School kids in America learn about possibly 10% of these wars, but U.S. history is comprised of dozens and dozens of wars, campaigns, and rebellions. When one ends, another begins.

We the People fight for land, liberty, equality, and fight against injustice of any kind.

We the People win, We the People lose, We the People withdraw. We the People typically live in relative peace, thanks to our own who fight these wars far from U.S. soil.

We the People attack. And We the People have been attacked.

We the People have always seen ourselves as different, perhaps touched, in a way, able to think for ourselves and willing to act on our own or another’s behalf. Right or wrong, it’s become the American Way. It makes us unpopular. But We the People don’t give up.

We’re a country, after all, that began with a rebellion.

In 1776, the 13 American colonies broke away from the British Empire, the colonists declared their independence, and sought the chance to rule themselves, the ability to make their own decisions, and the opportunity to build and thrive without the heavy burden of taxation without representation.

They wanted a say in their own lives, and they rebelled to get it. And whether you can trace your ancestry back to those founding fathers or you just arrived in America yesterday, you need to know about this spirit of rebellion and the fire that courses through our veins to lift up this land of the free and home of the brave.

Despite the atrocity and the infamy of today, September 11 also stands for hope, solidarity, and rebirth, because that’s what America is and always has been. Today we mourn our fallen, and we remember the outright courage of our own rebellious heroes who rushed into burning buildings and who downed their hijacked plane, these heroes who, to quote Lincoln, gave their lives that that nation might live.

It’s a powerful gift, this life. A gift we dare not forget.

~Jody Brown was working in Washington, D.C. on September 11, 2001. Her personal story of that day can be found in her debut novel, Upside Down Kingdom.