To paraphrase Benedict Cumberbatch’s intro to last night’s episode of Saturday Night Live, welcome to the last week of America as we know it. Regardless of how this election turns out, we’ll be waking up to a different country on Wednesday morning. It will either be a country that will have made history by voting for its first woman President and someone who has spent her entire life fighting for women, girls and families while representing the nation on a global stage … or it will be a country careening down a dangerous path led by an unstable, racist, xenophobic, sexist, egotistical, uninformed hot-headed monster with complete disregard for anyone’s interests except his own.
It’s pretty clear where I stand on this election — solidly, enthusiastically, emphatically 100% and then some With Her, if you had any doubt. I cannot wait to vote for Hillary Clinton. Yet there’s a part of me that wants to crawl into bed right now and not emerge until all the votes are counted and we (hopefully) know who won this thing. I’m not banking on that being Wednesday, so if that means I need to become Rip Van Winkle, that’s fine with me.
As appealing as that is, however, the anger and vitriol fueling this country’s deep divisiveness won’t vanish overnight. It’s not like we’re going to learn the results, immediately turn to our neighbor and start singing Kumbaya. (At least, I’m certainly not.) Who knows what kind of America we’ll be living in this time next week? It’s scary and stressful and anxiety-producing.
Still, I feel that I should be chronicling this pivotal moment in history somehow, maybe writing more about what this feels like. I’m not sure why or for whom, exactly; I guess I have this notion of potential grandchildren asking me about this unprecedented time and me not remembering the intensity, as hard as that seems to believe.
Both of my kids are very, very engaged with this election, so maybe I feel compelled to capture this moreso for them — so they can remember how it felt and what this time was like. I am taking The Girl with me to vote on Tuesday evening and into the voting booth itself. We’ve taken the kids to vote often, especially when they were younger, but I want my girl to be able to tell her potential grandchildren that their great-grandmother cast a vote for Hillary Clinton way back in that crazy historic year of 2016, and that she was part of it.
I want them to remember this.
The election has been the main topic of our dinner time conversations and The Boy, in particular, is very inquisitive. (For the record, The Boy has been invited to accompany us to vote, too; he’s declined.) While I don’t want to quash his interest and enthusiasm, he’s like me in that when he likes something, he is ALL IN and somewhat obsessive in his consumption, taking things to extremes at times. There have been several occasions when we’ve had to tell him to dial it down or take a time out from the election talk.
I do think about the impact this election is having on Generation Z (my kids’ generation, those who were born in the mid-late 1990s or early 2000s) but who are taking note of the discourse of this race. I wonder (and worry) about their long-time views on voting, democracy and public decorum. I think the reality-showification of this election, our politics as entertainment, would be an interesting study or book as it relates to this generation. (I’m available and willing, agents and publishers who may be reading ….)
That’s been part of the reason why, as I mentioned last week, I’ve been trying to be more intentional about limiting my media consumption of election-related news. (I know how hypocritical that sounds; I say this and then I write a whole blog post about the election, effectively contributing to the noise.) That means no political podcasts, no opinion or think-pieces, very little political engagement on social media. Everything that’s said has been said; everything has already been analyzed from every possible perspective. There’s nothing more I can learn, no new insight to be gained, nothing I can offer that you haven’t heard me say already.
Instead, I’ve been listening to music on my commutes to work, running, and reading, so since this is technically a Sunday Salon post, here’s a brief recap of all that:
This week I finished three books in TWO DAYS, which is unheard of for me. My current pace is more like three books in a month, if that. With a total of 37 books read this year, my revised 2016 goal of 50 books feels more doable.
Mothering Sunday by Graham Swift will be among my favorites of 2016. This novella is simply spectacular. Set in England, the story takes place in 1924 and centers on Jane Fairchild, a maid to the wealthy Niven family. They are friends with the Sheringhams, whose son Paul is engaged to marry Emma Hobday. That small detail doesn’t stop Paul or Jane from having an affair. The entire story unfolds over a few hours, making this the perfect book to read over the same amount of time. In fact, I’d say that this should be required to be read in one sitting, as I did yesterday afternoon while The Girl was at the library’s Anime Club program. It’s resplendent and luxurious, sexy and suspenseful, with hints of Virginia Woolf and reminders of Mrs. Dalloway. I loved every word and every minute I spent immersed in this. What a decadent way to spend a Saturday.
The Rain in Portugal: Poems by Billy Collins is the former Poet Laureate of the United States’ twelfth collection. It’s a perfectly fine, enjoyable grouping of poems. Those of us who are familiar with Collins’ work will find his usual fare here as he’s not a poet who surprises in terms of style or subject matter. He’s comfortable, pleasant, an easy read.
Shut Up and Run, by Robin Arzón offers runners of every ability motivation, training plans, practical tips and advice combined with Robin’s personal philosophy of fitness and story of how she left law to become an ultramarathoner (that’s someone who participates in events exceeding the marathon distance of 26.2 miles). Robin Arzón is fierce, strong, a real badass and I really liked her perspective.
Since Labor Day, I’ve ran or walked a total of 26.2 miles — my own personal marathon! — by following Couch to 5K. I’ve also lost 10 lbs. But with the days getting shorter and colder weather making its presence known (not to mention easy access to an abundance of Halloween candy in the house), I felt like I needed additional motivation and accountability to maintain my running progress. I was excited to see that Run Eat Repeat, a running blog I’ve been reading, is hosting Pile on the Miles, a fitness challenge during November which sounds like a good way to stay on track. I set myself a goal of 15 miles this month, which may be too ambitious for me.
It’s going to be quite a week. Go vote, my American friends. (And if you’re in Pennsylvania and need a ride to the polls? Lyft and Uber are giving you a free ride.)
See you on the other side.