Tuesday, November 4, 2008

What's that weird feeling?

The blessed state of West Virginia has a wonderful law by which all government offices, including public schools and universities, are closed on presidential election days. Since I voted on Saturday, I went to the gym this morning, which was packed, and then went to Kroger's (site of the earlier Bob Seger incident).

As I was pushing the cart through the aisles, I felt strangely elated. Like, if some peppy tune had come on the Muzak, I might've been tempted to belt out a tune in aisle five myself, or even break into a frenzied dance.

It was such a strange feeling, in fact, that I really wondered what was wrong with me. Too much Halloween candy? Post-elliptical-machine endorphin rush? Those are certainly possibilities, but as I continued my shopping, it dawned on me: this was optimism. And I hadn't felt it so deeply in so long that it felt almost pathological.

Recently, Phillip wrote about his realization that he'd been vaguely depressed ever since the primaries. My aisle-five epiphany was that I've been feeling despondent for the last eight years, on one level or another. Simply imagining that I might wake up tomorrow morning and live in a world that doesn't seem completely hopeless was a revelation. I saw how effectively I'd been restraining myself from feeling even remotely positive that things could change, much less letting such a feeling overtake me.

So, for today, anyway, until all of this is decided, I'm going to be a glass half-full, hopeful Obamabot, and enjoy every second of it.

[Top illustration from Art Spiegelman's In the Shadow of No Towers.]


Jane Kokernak said...

I'm with you, Rosemary.

Today my students were talking at the end of class, and how excited they are for the election. This being liberal Cambridge, MA, most of them are rooting for Obama.

We all seem to be imagining waking tomorrow full of civic joy. I felt that in '92 when Clinton won, anticipating that the U.S. could become a nation of engaged, hopeful, and productive people. I'd like to feel that again, and then for the feeling to last for 8 years.

Last week I was driving my daughter Lydia to her chorus rehearsal and listening to Obama on the radio. My eyes teared up when I imagined him winning, and how I would feel on Wed. 11/5 with him as the next President.

Won't it be wonderful, if he wins, to care about government again? to participate? to listen to radio news and feel... uplifted?

yarmando said...

I'm remembering that feeling 8 years ago, in your apartment, when we all realized that for the first time in our lives, someone we voted for was actually elected.

Pfeng said...

I know, I feel better today than I have in months, too! It's seriously amazing. There was a huge line at the polls and I was even excited to see that. I think it's mostly relief, but a lot of hope.

Rose said...

Scarily enough, Don, that was *16* years ago--the '92 election that Jane refers to, above. (I know--I can't believe it either. Let's not think about it, 'K?)

But yes, I was thinking about that very evening myself this morning, and remembering the cheers that went up when Ohio put Clinton over the top.

A friend here invited us over to watch the returns at her house, and I honestly didn't think I'd go, just because I was too scared to be that hopeful. But maybe I'll let a little more of that optimism in and go...it's not possible to overdose on it, I don't think.

And Pfeng: welcome! Here's to all of us feeling even better tomorrow, and every day after that.

Christy said...

I actually got chills casting my vote this morning (the good kind of chills: the kind that mean something actually feels right instead of simply less offensive).

Lest I put a damper on all this optimism, though, I'd like to state that I'm with Michael Moore: if Barack wants to break any of his campaign promises, that pesky Afghanistan invasion has my vote. And President Obama (that sounds pretty damn good!), if we can discuss this bailout a little bit further? And while we're at it, supporting a gay marriage ban? Really? In 2009? Let's chat.

All that said, I'm barely able to contain myself thinking of the map turning blue. Here's to history in the making!

Jim said...

I have something to do with encouraging/compelling students on my campus to vote. And when I went down to see how it was going today, seeing students camping in line for their chance to participate in the process, I felt a little good. Every vote is a vote for democracy, right?

Rose said...

While I was glad to have the day off, your story, Jim, as well as Jane's, make me sorry that I didn't get to see my students today. How cool it would've been to see them camped out in front of the polls! You *should* feel good, Jim...not many of us can say our jobs actually have such a direct impact.

And Christy, I forgot that Obama will be watching the returns at home in Chi-town--I hope you'll blog about the local response (and by local, I mean your neighborhood, not Grant Park).

BTW, it's been great to hear from so many folks today. That only adds to my optimism!

yarmando said...

Did I say "8 years?" Of course, I must have meant 8 years before the recent Dark Age began.

Rose said...

Actually, Don, let's go ahead and say it's been "8 years" ago, and pretend the last eight didn't happen. If only...

Jim said...

I actually thought Don was talking about having voted for the candidate who got the most votes. Because ... oh, hell, let it go.

Catherine Zoerb said...

Wonderful post!

The first presidental election I could vote in was in 2000. It was quite the introduction to prez elections!

I did not realize how much the past 8 years had dragged me down until Obama was announced. I've NEVER cried over an election before. I woke up this morning more relieved and happier than I've been in a long time. I've never been prouder to be an American.

Rose said...

All the rah-rah, flag-waving jingoism of the last eight years has really pissed me off. I'd written "patriotism" off altogether as a bad word. But--as you say, Catherine-- it's great to feel proud of my country again, and to have a President-elect who gets how democracy actually works.