This is the first Presidential Election Season that Joe and I have lived together; in 2008 he was in North Carolina and I was here in Atlanta, and in 2004 we were both in college, him in Chattanooga and me in… well, Atlanta; I guess in those years I was/am always in Atlanta… so in past years there were many phone calls and mutual dishing and hashing-out etc. after conventions and debate but not a lot of… well, not a lot of cuddling, I guess, while those things were going on. This year, though, SO MUCH CUDDLING.
Last week I was like, DUDE LET US PLAN A ”DEBATENITE DATENITE” (because we are gross/cute/like excuses to eat tacos). So we did, we went and got tacos then came home all margarita’ed up and plopped down in front of the TV and stuff got started and a couple minutes in I quite suddenly COULD NOT STAND IT ANYMORE. I had 1.5 drinks in me which usually settles me into a fairly pleasant/gregarious/copacetic, if not soon very sleepy, state, but I was feeling instead like I was going to crawl out of my own skin. I had to leave the room and go unload the dishwasher and putter around elsewhere, then when I came back to watch the rest I was basically writhing on the couch. And this feeling subsided pretty much as soon as the debate was over.
I felt weird about that—I did not expect to have that reaction, at all, but at the same time it felt really familiar. Only yesterday did I realize when I had felt that feeling before. In fact, I had felt that feeling all the time, as a child, because it was the exact same feeling I got whenever I watched Where In The World Is Carmen Sandiego, specifically the final showdown of each episode where there was the giant floor-map of a certain continent and the host would call out different country names and the last kid standing would have to run around setting those red-light-pole-things on the correct country, and if he/she won then he got to fly ANYWHERE IN THE WORLD. Or possibly just anywhere in the country. I don’t remember. I do remember the looming presence of Rockapella. And I do remember how every single time this happened on the show I would not leave the room but rather bury my face in the couch cushions until it was over. I just could not handle the vicarious pressure. There was just so much at stake. If I had known the words “DON’T FUCK THIS UP, KID” they would have been racing through my mind but as it stood my prayer was more like “AHHHHH.”
And that is how I felt watching the debate the other night. So let’s just say we are being a bit more tentative about planning a date night around the Ryan/Biden showdown this week. I just hate being a party pooper.
So I wrote this thing about Lena Dunham and “nepotism” the other day, just pounded it out at my desk at work when I should have been eating lunch but lunch was only a packet of instant oatmeal, and then some nice people at Buzzfeed asked if they could run it on the site, and I said yes, and then I spent the rest of the day totally fixated on the responses the piece was getting, which is a habit I’ve spent the last, oh, you know, five or six years trying to break myself of, with only occasional success. Later that night I spent even more time responding to responses to the post instead of polishing up a totally unrelated essay that I was actually personally invested in and was feeling good and fulfilled by. I felt bad about that. I felt bad about this piece I had real feelings for languishing in my Google docs while I refined points of an argument that I didn’t care much about to begin with and cared about less and less as I continued to make it. And overall I just felt bad. Most of the comments were actually fairly positive/supportive, but I just felt like I was hanging in a cloud of bad internet juju all day and for most of the next day.
And then I remembered that I had felt this way before, pretty much every week when I was recapping Modern Family for Vulture a couple years ago. (Not even going to link the pieces. You can hunt them down if you want, but please keep the rest of this in mind:) I started out liking the show OK but every week I got more and more annoyed with it, and then also annoyed that I was having to spend time with it and force out thoughts about it, annoyed that I was having to stay up late/get up early to write about it, just annoyed with the whole TV-recapping racket, and this came out in everything I wrote about it, and the commenters got more and more hostile towards me—it was just a gross vortex of low-investment, high-irritation assignment-motivated opinions.
Every week when my recap posted I felt really shitty all day. It wasn’t because I had written something that people on the internet disagreed with—that happens all the time and I can generally deal with it. It was just this feeling of having injected grumpiness into a world already so full of grumpiness, and not even grumpiness I felt I could really get behind, just grumpiness borne of temporary irritation, the written evidence of which got to live on the internet much much longer than I actually felt those feelings, forcing me to feel accountable for them hours and days after I was really, truly, deeply over it.
I still feel like that show’s a piece of crap. And I do feel like most people use the word “nepotism” wrong. I just don’t feel, and never really did feel, that either of those stances were worth going out on any kind of internet-limb for. And yet I did. Yet I did.
I went to Flux Night last night and the weather was pretty much exactly what it had been for Flux Night last year, but last year I had a weird parking/crowds/art-induced panic attack and the weather seemed ominous and spooky and cold, and this year I did not and the weather seemed beautiful and breezy and everything I wanted.