I wish I could say that this experience does not resonate with me, but since November 7, 2000, I seem to have taken up residence on the Dark Side of the Moon myself. The shift came as suddenly as "blue Florida" became "too close to call" Florida. I was already wearing the first symptom, although I did not know it at the time. NEXT: ARLEN SPECTER: "THE MOLE?"
You see, I wore my "I voted" sticker to bed on election night, as if it somehow had the power to ward off the evil spirits I had begun to hear rattling the cemetery gates. Three days later I was still wearing it, although I had to keep it inside my pocket since the sticky stuff on the back had accumulated enough lint to turn a Chihuahua into a Toy Poodle.
The progression of the disease was alarming. By the end of the week, I was addicted to the news. It was easy to give up my nightly work-out, since it was inadvisable to be holding a weight over my face during "Hardball". And one nearly fatal accident involving Jim Baker and a flaming batch of chocolate chip cookies put an end, first to recreational baking, and finally to cooking in general.
By mid-December I could quote Florida election law from memory, and recite the names of every circuit court judge in the entire state. Canvassing board members in counties hundreds of miles away were more familiar to me than my own children. My husband and I debated Constitutional law while Christmas shopping.
And then I discovered the internet, or more specifically I discovered politics on the internet. Lo and behold there we Democrats in the house. Angry Democrats. Bit-buckets full of them. And Progressives, and Socialist, and Greens, and anarchists. Every one of them saw what was so blatantly obvious to me, spinmeister rhetoric to the contrary, there had been a Coup.
In that moment, an activist was born, and activism has irrevocably changed my life.
Now activism in the age of technology is an interesting thing. Organizing across time zones means that you spend a lot of time at the computer forming blood ties with people you have never met. Instead of conveying emotions with smiles and hugs, you frame them with "<" and punctuate them with ":-)". Instead of hashing out plans across a conference room table, you learn to strategize in the dizzying denizens of the chatroom where conversation is non-linear and fractal. You learn to think in terms of time zones, and you bury your circadian rhythms in a flurry of midnight brainstorms.
Personal hygiene gets dicey. You have to be reminded that you are still in your pajamas at two in the afternoon, and if the dog would only learn to use a litter box, you could probably dispense with the concept of "outside" entirely.
And then there's work, which really becomes an enormous distraction when you are trying to overturn a coup. Since you don't want to miss any of the action, you give out your corporate telephone number and e-mail address gladly. You become adept at using the minimize function on your e-mail window, so that your new friends, who tend to have names like PissedOffInFlorida and BushSucks, don't inadvertently insert themselves in a cubicle-side chat with your boss.
And the final indignity is that you gain weight. Those fingers flying across the keyboard just do not burn as many calories as a brisk jog in the park. Five pounds during the re-counts. Five more after the concession speech. At least eight pounds on the day Ashcroft was confirmed alone. My current exercise regimen consists solely of the Protest March, although at this point I would have to march from Delaware to D.C. in order to achieve anything remotely resembling physical fitness.
So with these life changes in mind, from the depths of my darkened soul, my propagating cellulite, and my collapsing lungs, I would like to issue a personal warning to the current resident of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue:
I am coming to visit you in May, me and a million of my close personal friends. We are overweight, sleep-deprived, unwashed, and we have had way too much coffee. But most of all, we are really, really pissed. There is a wise old saying that goes, "It ain't over 'til the fat lady sings." Well, on May 19, the fat ladies will be singing on your doorstep. And I guarantee you, you won't like the tune.