nonBlog: November 2008

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Thin is the New Miserable is My New Article—Thursday,
November 20, 2008

Oooh I just love to write about things people get all worked up about. I don’t even mind much that I have to give myself away in the process. Is this a pathology? If it is let’s call it adaptive and move on.
 
My Q&A with Val Frankel about her new book Thin is the New Happy went live yesterday on AlterNet, and in order to conduct the interview I had to confess a variety of embarrassing and sensitive things, among them the fact that my weight has creeped up in spite of my vow that I would never spend another day of my life looking at a closet of clothes that don’t quite fit, and that one reason I struggle so much with my body is that my mother started putting me on diets when I was in the sixth grade. (And, I might add, not even chubby.) But what the hell. I figure that if I’m struggling with something, there must be others. Judging by the number of comments the story got, at least 78 others. And now they know they’re not alone, just like I did when I read Val’s book. I could have written it. But I didn’t, Val did. And since she is my college classmate and friend, the least I can do is evangelize. And vow that next time I will be bold enough to write the book I could have written before somebody else does.

 

You Like Me, You Really Like Me!—Monday, November 10, 2008

I haven’t written about election night or its effects on me because much of my writing is driven by anger and I am, to the detriment of my blog, silly with glee. The word “happy” doesn’t have nearly enough letters to express how happy I am. I am happpeeeee. I now understand that, as overstated as this is going to sound, for eight years about 40% of my daily emotional state has been determined by the feeling that I was being oppressed by a dictatorial regime. Wait, it’s even more than that. I feel like my country loves me again. They didn’t like me before, when more than 50% of my country’s inhabitants thought that electing Bush II was a good idea not once but twice, but now they agree with me and, thus, love me. And I love them too. They elected the black guy with the funny name. I am damn impressed.
 
I delude myself that my extreme emotions on the matter have shaped my children’s memories in a positive way. On election night, the five of us and our honorary family member and frequent houseguest Lily watched the returns in full clench. We didn’t really believe a good thing was going to happen. (Okay, Tom did, but he is incautious and thus doesn’t count.) I had heard in the day or two leading up to the 4th that if Virginia went for Obama, it was well and truly over. So I maintained my clench until the moment they announced that Virginia was blue, at which point I burst into tears. I was bawling. The little kids were devastated. Ava petted my face and Greta said, “Mommy, are you thinking about Grandpa Steve? Is that why you’re crying?” And I said, “No, I’m not sad. I’m crying because I’m happy. Have you ever been so happy that you cried?” And Greta nodded gravely and said, “I know what you mean, Mommy. When I got Bunny back, I was so happy I cried.” And she was right. She lost Bunny, her favorite stuffed animal, and we found another one on EBay that we gave her on Christmas morning last year. She opened the box with Bunny in it, hugged Bunny tight, and couldn’t say another word or open another present until she had wept for five solid minutes.
 
That’s how I feel about Obama. I feel like all is right in the world again. Every morning I wake up and think, “It’s still true. They can’t take it back.” My country makes sense to me again, and I feel like a proud member of its ranks. The world thinks well of us again too. I don’t want to write my next book. Career problem solved: I want to work for Obama. I’m not kidding even a little bit.

 

One Vote Not Counted—Tuesday, November 4, 2008

I can’t tell you whether there were tears in my eyes when I voted for Barack Obama this morning because I got to participate in such a historic election, or because my dad didn’t. I’m not sure how he would have voted, and the fact that I can’t ask him makes my throat tight.
 
My dad was a bit of a redneck, truth be told, which is kind of funny because his mother was the most refined lady I have ever met. But Dad lived in Florida and loved his guns and his time in the military, and although he had raised us kids as liberals, he was voting Republican by the 1990’s. He and I used to spend hours on the phone talking about why Democrats wanted to save the lives of convicted criminals but didn’t mind sacrificing the potential lives of fetuses, or why Republicans complained about tax-and-spend liberals but always seemed to run up the deficit to record levels. In 2004, our debates became more fevered as the election drew near, and Dad’s devotion to his adopted party wavered. We reached a stalemate right before the election, when we agreed to disagree and I begged him never to tell me who he voted for just to save me the pain.
 
Then a few months later, after I had kinda sorta recovered from the shock of having to endure another four years of Bush II, I made some wisecrack about how my own father had helped land us in this ridiculous dilemma. And Dad said, “No I didn’t. I voted for Kerry.”
 
I said, “You did not! You did? You voted for Kerry?”
And he replied, “Yeah, I voted for Kerry.”
I exclaimed, “Jesus, Dad, why didn’t you tell me! It would have made me feel so much better!”
And he said, “Well, you told me not to.”
 
He was a tough guy to love, and some of the time I wondered how I really felt about him. But that day, I loved him more than I ever had—more than when I was a kid and I used to lie upside-down on the hill of our lawn watching for his giant frame to come lumbering down the street after work, more than when he taught me how to carve pumpkins or surf or pretend to disconnect my thumb from my hand. He voted for Kerry for me, and it makes me wonder if he might have voted for Obama for me today too. It’s one Florida vote I wish Barack Obama could still have.

 

New, or Practically New

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  • Fame and Fortune: Currently working on, and shocked to find I’m making headway with, the latter. Partly because of a bit of movement on the former. Perhaps endurance is the key to everything after all.