Note to the World: I Will Calm Down When I Feel Like It

OK, so I am a nervous wreck about the upcoming election. I admit it. I have no pride. I have always been the canary trilling in the mine shaft, dropping dead before she could tell all the miners she told them so. So what, big deal, I know my place in life.

We have two more presidential debates to go. I don’t know about the candidates, but I, for one, will need to be heavily sedated to get through them.

Half the people I know are talking about moving to Canada if the election doesn’t go their way — which is ridiculous. If you want to move to Canada, then move to Canada and stop talking about. Talking about moving to Canada is almost as boring as talking about writing or talking about not writing — and just about as effective. Spare me, spare the world.

But, wait. Where was I? Oh, yes, the debates. My friend Charlsa is so apoplectic about the election that she refuses to watch the debates. Instead, she and her husband are going to the movies to see Argo. I think this is a fine idea, except I’ve seen the movie and it was great, but it doesn’t exactly calm you down.

(If you want to find a movie that’s a bit more relaxing, I, personally, would recommend The Master. You’ll spend a couple of hours waiting for something to happen and everything to pull together, but it never does. Then you’ll leave the theater trying to figure out whether to blame yourself or the movie, since it’s supposed to be a masterpiece and what kind of moron are you if you don’t get it? My husband — who points out that any movie whose supporters rave about the cinematography is bound to be a sure loser — blamed the movie.)

Anyway, I see a real cottage industry springing up here for people like Charlsa and me. Movies to calm your pre-election jitters and induce narcolepsy. Manicures to repair your chewed and torn fingernails. Travel agents who will send you to boring places, preferably to locales that don’t get the Internet or cell-phone service, where nobody speaks English. Quacks who will medicate your existential presidential crisis.

In the meantime, my husband tells me to cool it. Presidents come, presidents go, the country survives. Skip the drama, breathe deeply, take the long view, we’ll be okay.

For a couple of milliseconds, I am calm. Too calm. But then, I begin to think about the long view and I get suspicious. I am one-quarter American Indian, after all! For centuries, palefaces like, say, my husband, have told us to calm down, breathe deeply, sign the treaty, smoke the peace pipe.

In the long run, as Keynes famously said, we are all dead. In the long view, Indians ended up on blighted reservations clutching a bunch of worthless beads and broken treaties.

I get it now. It’s all connected — mine shafts, debates, cinematography, Canada, peace pipes. Forget tranquility. I’d be crazy to calm down at a time like this.

Don’t ask for whom the canary sings; until November 6, it sings for thee.

(Copyright 2012 by Ruth Pennebaker)

Read a less political post about bullying waiters and cosmeticians





16 comments… add one
  • Marsha Canright Link

    Perfect expression of my daily angst.

  • Oh boy, know this rollercoaster of emotions. Marc is a walking wreck like you. (The Yankees are not helping, either)

  • I am looking forward to this election being over. Can’t we just vote now and be done? I just watch stuff on my DVR and Netflix when the debates are on. Breaking Bad is a great alternative.

  • I’m with Charla. Can’t watch the debates. Many others will fill me in tomorrow whether I want them to or not. My heart just can’t take it.
    I like the idea of the new niche businesses. After the election, depending upon who wins, there may be a need for ex-pat counseling….how to live in another country while waiting out the 4 years to the next election.

  • I’ll be very happy when the incessant robo calls end!

  • I’m so confused about the election, it’s pathetic. But I’m not moving to Canada. That requires lots of paperwork.

  • I really like this one — a lot!

  • Ahhhhgggghhhhhhh! I feel your pain. I’m in France, sweating out whether or not my absentee ballot was done correctly, will be received OK, etc. Fingers crossed.

  • Cindy A Link

    WELL, I was feeling pretty calm until NOW….

  • I’m ready for the election to be over too. But on the bright side, there’s so much good fodder for cool memes and SNL skits right now

  • Moving to NZ didn’t make me any less prone to be crazy about US politics. Trust me, I still yell, fuss and want to bury my head under the covers.

  • I already moved to France and returned, so I know Canada is not the solution. I watched yesterday night and actually found myself cheering Obama on, as if two gladiators had been competing, as if it were a blood sport.

  • Yep. It has devolved into a stare-down, two guys pointing fingers and circling one another in the ring. Not very refined, surely not what those who wrote the Constitution envisioned. I voted early, thinking it might help reduced the angst. I have call blocking on my phone to eliminate the robots’ calls. Didn’t work. I am still chewing my fingernails down to my wrists. May the best man win so I can go back to worrying about the Kardashians.

  • Oh, oh, oh. I so get this. It’s freakish how many people I’m finding that support the OTHER GUY, a guy that is obviously – to me, anyway – Not Equipped to handle this job. I worry. I bite my nails. I vote. I just hope that enough people out there are concerned about women’s rights and fear the possibility of returning to a barefoot and pregnant existence. Sigh.

  • LOL, Ruth, this describes me perfectly. I have a good friend who says he will not watch the debates because he then tends to over analyze and worry too much. He did remind me though, when I was lamenting my own worry the other night, that no matter what happens on November 6, the sun will still rise on November 7. Whether the next four years is gloomy is only a matter of perspective, and hopefully, it’s not ours! 🙂

  • I calmed down by working with Organizing for America (OFA) for Obama, in the “pre-campaign” neighborhood organizing in summer 2011, last spring in Austin and later, in Santa Fe, where I moved in August.

    So glad I did! It also helped to become a Huff Post SuperUser, engaging in online debates in comments sections, from which I learned so much, when people weren’t engaging in “ad hominem” attacks.

    I’m now going into campaign withdrawal. Of course, the fights are not over.

    Climate change, the environment and environmental justice; the transfer of wealth from the poor and middle classes to the ultra-wealthy since Reagan; continuing racism in America; women’s rights; election and voting procedures across the country and voter suppression; jobs, jobs, jobs vs. outsourcing–lots of stuff to “fix”!

    Let’s stay engaged politically!

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