Mark sat at the butcher block kitchen island on a frigid MLK day. “Oh, CityBeat’s Best of is open for voting.”
I groaned over the low hum of the kettle. “If it’s been you these past three years putting my name on that list, please stop.”
My name had appeared on the ballot in 2015, 16, and 17 under Best Local Author.
His blue eyes bore through my hardened stance. “It’s never been me.”
I shook my head and stared out at the blank sky. “I have no idea how I get on that list, year after year. I don’t win and feel silly for being on it. Maybe I’m not on it this year.”
“Let’s see if you’re on the ballot again.” Mark started scrolling through all the entries, having to vote in 20 categories for his ballot to count.
It was a long, painstaking wait. The kettle whistled. Minutes passed.
“Yep, there you are. First one on the list under Best Local Author in the Arts section.
“Only because its alphabetical.” I directed my nose to the New York Times.
“Oh look, you can make comments this year. It’s the only ballot I’ve seen where one can do it. And he typed, Certainly, one can get no more local than Annette Wick’s 52 walks of Cincinnati’s neighborhoods at www.gettinmycityon.wordpress.com.
Mark referred to my year-long project to walk (not just hang out in) the boundaries of each neighborhood belonging to the city of Cincinnati and afterwards, write a blog post about my lessons learned from that walk.
“Mark. You don’t have to say that.” I said sheepishly, but with pride.
“No, really. If you’re going to win any year, this is it. You can’t get more local than what you did.”
I poured the hot water through my coffee press, content to slurp over the printed copy of the New York Times “52 Places to Go” in 2018. Cincinnati had landed at number 8. “The Times could have added something about my blog in there, you know see all 52 neighborhoods of Cincinnati in one sitting.”
Mark finished his task and chugged down the last of his coffee. My joe was already cold.
“I do wonder how I got on that list.” I wasn’t content to let that fact rest. “And to be honest, how do I get off?”
“Do they keep you on there, as sort of punishment, until you live up to the billing?”
Mark chuckled and waited half of a beat. With a twinkle in his Irish eyes, he responded. “It’s like Win or Die.”
Certainly, the annual rite was beginning to feel that way.