Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Soak up the partial sun

Date: Oct. 2 and 3
Total mileage: 66.2
October mileage: 66.2

City election night means I had to work late. Not late like "better order in dinner" late. Late like "wow when did it become 2 a.m.?" late. Elections always pump a little suspense and excitement into the newspaper business, but they always leave me with nagging guilt. I consider myself a fairly civic-minded person, but I carry the deep and secret shame of not having voted in a public election since 2002. The last presidential candidate I voted for was Ralph Nader (in 2000, not '04). I have a lot of excuses. I moved around a lot. I was out of the state at all the right times. But the truth is really much more superficial.

My name is Jill, and I am incapable of dealing with bureaucracy.

I know, it sounds completely silly. But it's true. I dread and put off simple things like registering a vehicle or filling out a change of address form at the post office. I've neglected to get an Alaska driver's license because that requires waiting in line for a new social security card. I wait until midnight on April 15 to do my taxes even when the IRS owes me money. I had the option to apply for public housing while I was homeless my first weeks in Juneau, but couldn't face filling out the stack of required forms. I carried Idaho plates on my car until a couple weeks ago, and only changed them because a cop said I had to. I'm afraid of cops. But nobody with a gun is telling me to register to vote in the state of Alaska.

I know it's unforgivably simple. But it's like that with everything government-related in my life. I can't deal with it. It's a sickness.

That said, I had a beautiful couple of days to ride some 30-milers before work. I go with Geoff, who likes to ride comfortable and site-see. I haven't been working my legs very hard, but I did get a chance to explore all sorts of new corners of town: narrow roads wrapped around cliffs, rainforest paths, footbridges. Say what you will about life in Juneau (and dreary is one I hear often), but I never imagined that the simple appearance of sunlight would have the ability to snap me into a instant, almost involuntary good mood, with a shot of free energy to top it off. What can I say? Deprivation breeds gratitude.

Deprivation breeds gratitude ... hmmm. Maybe that's why Afghan citizens waited all day in the hot sun just for a chance to cast a ballot in their first democratic election. Maybe therein is a lesson for me to learn. Their example tells me to get out and vote. And yet, all I wanted to do this morning was get out and bike. I blame the sun.