Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Political Flossing

Guest Editorial as featured in the Ojai Valley News, circulation 5,000, November, 2004:

I have finally emerged from my self-imposed post-election mourning period.  No more depression naps, drinking binges, Pepto Bismol guzzling or Ben and Jerry’s overdoses.  I’ve stopped the helpless and repetitive cycle of sobbing and/or hyperventilating into paper bags (which, incidentally, is quite taxing when done simultaneously).  Finally, my husband, Bill, had enough and snatched the paper bag from my hands and demanded that I step away from the Phish Food (a B&J’s classic) and for god’s sake, wipe the mascara blotches from under my eyes.  Since my OTC sleep-aids had run out anyway, I begrudgingly decided to put the phone back on the hook, power-up the laptop again and wash my hair.  Time to get back out there I guess.

This election grabbed hold of me and wouldn’t let go.  I took all of the issues very seriously – maybe too seriously (this occurs to me as I examine the pink Pepto stains on the t-shirt I’ve worn but haven’t washed for a week).  Could this be the dawning of my self-realization, a final right of passage into adulthood?  I poked and prodded my absentee ballot with an extraordinarily confident precision, careful to ensure there were no hanging chads.  I had fallen prey to an information overload obsession, reading everything I could get my hands on, surfing the internet so much I got static electricity standing my hair on end, watched the controversial political films, every debate and all of the Sunday morning pundit jam sessions.  I knew I was in trouble when my friends started talking to me like they were debate facilitators; “I’m sorry Lisa, but I’m afraid your thirty seconds are up.”  Despite being well-studied, I found myself vacillating over things like phone taxes and three strikes.  Oh how I yearned for the good old days when I was blissfully ignorant and uninformed.  The tough decisions plagued me; the difficulty of coming to terms with where I stood on some of the issues even drained me.  It seems that just before the election I was faced with what I had felt were crucial decisions that weighed heavily on me, like whether the latest Dilbert was forward-worthy, or if my new jeans should be line- or tumble-dried, or which toothpaste to buy.

Toothpaste!  My visit to the dentist the previous week had sent me into a dither about toothpaste, further evidence of my neurotic tendencies I suppose.  My hygenist had given me subtle jabs about the "quality of my oral care."  So next thing I know I was in the aisle at Rite-Aid with a print-out from the American Dental Association website, groping and scrutinizing tubes of Colgate and Crest.  This one has flouride and fights plaque, but this one whitens and gives you fresh breath.  Oh, wait a minute, no ADA stamp of approval, pass on the fresh breath.  But do I want paste or gel?  My head was spinning.  Finally, the holy grail of toothpaste, enveloped in a golden light, with a choir singing above the rants of the 4-year-old in the candy aisle, presented itself to me.  "This is the one!" I shouted, quickly grabbing my cell phone to placate the stares and pretend that I wasn't crazy, just rude.  Fights cavities, freshens breath, whitens, has fluoride, fights plaque, fights gingivitis, dentist-approved! 

Oh, if only all decisions yielded such satisfaction.  With my sharp poker in-hand, I finalized my decisions with a fierce determination, and waited with bated (but fresh) breath for the outcome, hoping for the same drugstore jubilation.  Despite the fact that the results nearly sent me over to the dark side, I am now on the road to recovery.  As I chucked the yard sign that I had once displayed so proudly and prominently, now weathered and beaten like me, I vowed to continue to fight the good fight and keep making those tough decisions.  I hope those of you who felt as strongly about this election as I did (and it seems there were quite a few of us), will find a way to come to terms with the outcome and strive to work together.

And I don’t know about you, but I’ll be keeping a bottle of Pepto within arms reach.