In 2003, California had asked its citizens to vote on whether to recall then-Governor Gray Davis, and if he were recalled, to vote on who would replace him. The unique nature of the race (only 65 signatures were required to become a candidate) led to a crazy slate of celebrities on the ballot including former child star Gary Coleman, author Arianna Huffington, porn magnate Larry Flint, and Angelyne, whose campaign slogan was "We've had Gray, we've had Brown, now it's time for some blond and pink." We ended up electing Arnold Schwarzenegger.
I also remember the 2008 election. I was worried about getting time off from work so that I could vote, but then the recession hit my company and I was laid off the day before the election.
I've done my best to exercise my civic duties while living abroad. In 2012, I voted from Madrid, thanks to California's technologically advanced ballot-by-email system. This year, I've done the same for both the primary and now the general election.
It's not so easy for everyone and I don't lecture expats abroad who don't vote - it's tough to do. But I write this to remind Bryan in the year 2066 that I voted in the historic election of 2016.
Hannah and I drove with some friends down to a small resort just north of Nyanza-Lac in Makamba, the southernmost province in Burundi. Down the beach from where we were swimming was a group of kids, playing in the waves and with each other. The older ones among them jumped into wooden fishing boats, maybe for fun, maybe for practice, or maybe to begin contributing to the family's income. Some of these young fishermen ventured close to us out of curiosity as the sun set.
In the space of two weeks, Hannah and I experienced two very different weddings. Our friends Molly and Adam got married in beautiful Sonoma, California.
And our housekeeper Lydwine got married to her partner in Bujumbura, Burundi.
Although this was not my first American wedding, it was my first fully Jewish wedding. There were a lot of really beautiful traditions, like the signing of the ketubah, Molly circling around Adam seven times in front of the chuppah, and a beautifully sung Hebrew prayer called the Seven Blessings.
The Burundian wedding, on the other hand, was a first for me, and I wasn't even able to hide in the back! As Lydwine's employers, Hannah and I were given places of honor in the first row. Sodas are a big thing at Burundian weddings and as honored guests, we were served first. The American wedding was a little more self-service when it came to drinks.
Adam and Molly took professional wedding photos with their families and bridal parties and at Lydwine's wedding there were several videographers filming everything. I guess the international rule for weddings is "pictures, or it didn't happen."
Lydwine's wedding had some really great entertainment. At different parts during the reception, dancers came in to entertain the guests and near the end, one of the family members came up and sang an improvised (and apparently very funny, but inappropriate) song about the wedding night.
Adam and Molly had the horah, which is an awesome dance and should happen at every wedding, regardless of the Jewishness of the couple. They also had a sweet band that Adam and I perform our old college number Jungle Boogie.
I kind of ended up giving speeches at both weddings. At the Burundian wedding, I was called up to say a few words, so I greeted the guests in Kirundi, telling them after I said good afternoon that I had exhausted my complete vocabulary. Then in French, I thanked them could for honoring us by including us in their special day and telling the groom how lucky he was to be marrying such an intelligent, warm-hearted woman.
At Adam and Molly's wedding, I served as the MC, introducing the different speeches and dances but not saying too much. However, right before the first dance, Molly had a small wardrobe malfunction. I stalled for time by telling a long joke about a donkey, a goat and a horse, walking down a road in wine country. We all know how that joke ends... wait you don't? I didn't either.
In the end, I was happy to partake in my favorite part of weddings: family and friends gathered together to celebrate love.