I am exhausted and I want my life back.
Reading and thinking and talking about this presidential election has consumed so much of my life, and for more than a year, I have immersed myself in it willingly and enthusiastically. But, this past weekend, I finally had my fill. And I desperately want out.
If you count the 1.5 hours of reading in the morning and the 1.5 hours at night and the .5 hour of reading during the day, every day, every week, it’s the equivalent of a 25-hour-a-week part-time job for more than a year. Let’s say I worked at a coffee shop and made $10 an hour (for the sake of me not having to get out of this chair for a calculator). That’s $1,000 a month I have been squandering while lying in my bed staring at a screen, informing and infuriating myself. I could’ve amassed enough to buy a sizeable tiny home!
I recall writing in early April how I needed a break from my election intake, looking forward to an artist residency at Willowtail in Mancos as a sound reason to tune out for a bit. That was six months ago!
And it has only spiraled deeper. In early September, unable to meet my fix, I purchased a subscription to The Washington Post because of rumblings that reporter David Fahrenthold and crew was in line to win a Pulitzer for coverage of this presidential election, including perhaps the biggest game-changer in this election, the tape of Donald Trump boasting of sexually assaulting women. This on top of my New York Times subscription, and my two news aggregators. I do not kid: The base of my right palm has ached continuously from bracing my iPad so much.
This doesn’t include time spent watching every debate, including last fall’s primary debates, or the John Oliver or Stephen Colbert segments on YouTube, or the SNL sketches, or the Johnny Depp spoof “Donald Trump’s The Art of the Deal: The Movie,” or George Saunders’ wonderful New Yorker political travel piece “Who Are All These Trump Supporters?” or PBS’ highly informative and unsettling documentary “The Choice 2016,” which uncovers the motivations behind HRC and DJT throughout their early, professional and now presidential-aspiring lives, or … please stop me.
My obsession did have its benefits. I felt informed, getting information consistently and thoroughly from trustworthy and reputable sources, ingesting the nuance of print journalism from the doggedness of some of the world’s best reporters. I took comfort in amassing in-depth knowledge. Non-partisan, fact-based reporting does wonders for one’s anxiety.
I’ve sat at tables with friends and acquaintances and when the topic of the election came up, I’d have to go around the table, looking into everyone’s eyes trying to gauge interest level and not entering the conversation unless I get assuredness that those present were “ready to do this,” for fear I would end up vomiting months’ worth of information, facts and opinions onto the dinner table, leaving everyone with PTSD.
I’ve had friends who have told me about their screaming matches with family members, friendships unraveling, Twitter battles with strangers. I’ve had dreams about Donald Trump, from having a heart-to-heart with him, asking him to dig deep to find the good within (ha!), to breaking in to homes in my childhood neighborhood with him and a group of ne’er-do-wells, and then unsuccessfully trying to get some fumbling high school kid to video Trump running away in his suit and dress shoes after we were all caught.
I’m so ready to move on as the mental and emotional load has become too much. But given all this, I hope that, starting next Wednesday, we can forget this nightmare, go back to being civil, be able to look one another in the eyes, accept the reality we have voted ourselves into and get back to more productive lives.