Friday I celebrated Halloween by going door to door--not asking for candy, but doing GOTV stuff for Obama. I didn't knock on the doors of strangers; I told campaign people that I would never do that again in this lifetime, having already fulfilled my quota of door-knocking for the Mormon church. Nor would I do phone banks. Instead I did stuff like data entry or hanging those little thingies on door knobs, reminding people to VOTE on November 4. Oh, and I also brooded about the upcoming election.
Saturday I felt like crap and tried to fight off a cold, and brooded about the upcoming election.
Sunday I cleaned my home really, really thoroughly, first of all for something to do. Also so that if the election went well, my happiness would be increased by the pleasure I always feel waking up in a clean house, and so that if it went badly, I could just sulk and not have to deal with housework. Then I brooded about the upcoming election.
Monday I tried to be upbeat. I wore an outfit I really like, hung out in cool places, planned a nice meal, bought booze. I worked hard at projects that needed hard work. Then I brooded about the upcoming election.
I had cleared Tuesday entirely. The only three things I had to do were A) vote and B) brood about the election until the votes were reported, and C) watch the results.
Voting was not as difficult as I feared. I didn't vote early because I like going to the polls on election day. I was able to walk to my polling place. There was no line. None. There were eight voting machines and people at four of them. My wait time to vote was 0 minutes. I voted, walked out of the church (my polling place is often a church) and kept walking, to get my blood moving and to kill time.
Tuesday night I switched between various web sites. I watched states turn red or blue. I opened a bottle of wine. There was that moment, after Ohio was called for Obama but before California came in, when I did the math like everyone else and realized Obama was going to win.
I burst into tears and I cried on and off for the rest of the night. I cried for the same reasons so many others cried: joy, astonishment, gratitude, hope, fatigue, relief. Emphasis on astonishment and fatigue. I mean, I knew I felt joy and hope, but they were muted by the huge strain of waiting for the election.
I toasted the president elect and his family. I toasted myself. I toasted everyone who made this possible. I went to bed eventually. I slept fitfully. I woke up with a hangover.
Wednesday I did the minimum I could get away with in terms of professional and social obligations. I read accounts and analyses of how Obama won, how the world reacted, what his presidency would mean.
I felt OK. I felt better than I would have if McCain had won, but I didn't feel great. I still felt a lot of astonishment and fatigue.
And then, in the evening, something happened. I finally laughed.
A good part of it was reading about how McCain staff said Palin's shopping addiction was worse than was reported before the election, and that REPUBLICANS lamented "Wasilla hillbillies looting Neiman Marcus from coast to coast." Or watching video on Fox News informing us that Palin didn't know Africa is a continent, and threw temper tantrums that reduced her staff to tears when she got bad press.
This is who the Republicans chose to lead them, and us?
I laughed because it was so ridiculous. A new bar has been set in the theatre of the absurd. I thought it was bad enough that the Republicans stuck us with a president as stupid and incurious as George Bush, but he was no comparison for Sarah Palin in the contest for stupidest person ever to run for office in the American presidency.
I laughed out of schadenfreude. Who hasn't? Bill Kristol, Pat Buchanan, John McCain, certain members of my social circle, all these people who vaunted Palin as a legitimate candidate: their credibility has been profoundly damaged. And Sarah P herself had to return the clothes and go home.
I laughed the nervous, anxious laughter that bursts forth when you realize you've missed a bullet. Except that we didn't miss a bullet. We missed an entire artillery assault.
I laughed because I could. I laughed because laughing finally helped dissipate the tension in my gut. I laughed because it felt good, and it helped me feel the other things that made me cry: joy, astonishment, gratitude, hope.
At a time when it really counted and we knew it, we did the right thing.