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Archive for September, 2008

The First Presidential Debate: The Subtext Version

Sunday, September 28th, 2008

JIM LEHRER: Senator Obama, can you outline your approach to solving the current financial disaster?

OBAMA: This country’s been gutted like a trout by rich corporate robbers and the morons in the White House. John McCain is so stupid, he thinks that running this country exactly the way George Bush is will solve all our problems.

McCAIN: (red-faced and shaking) See? He’s an elitist! He thinks he’s better than you! Are you honestly going to vote for a black man? Especially one who thinks he’s more important and smarter than you!? Not only is he black, he’s a Muslim-loving, gun-hating, baby-killing machine! Why do you think there’s such a close resemblance to his name and Osama Bin Laden’s? They are the same person! Have you ever noticed how dark Osama Bin Laden is, or should I call him, Obama Bin Laden?

OBAMA: (glowering at McCAIN) John, you f**kin’ crazy old man, shut the f**k up. You belong in a nursing home, not the Oval Office. I mean, look at you, I’m worried you won’t live long enough to complete this debate.

McCAIN: (purple-faced) I’m experienced, not old! I’ve been there! I’ve done it all!

OBAMA: I am so sick of your crap. You’ve changed your mind so much and been so many different people in the past months, we’re gonna have to start calling you Senator Sybil. I think if someone said they’d trade you the presidency for your wife, you’d take the deal.

McCAIN calms, narrows eyes, rubs chin. Appears to be thinking. Coming alive, he glares at OBAMA.

McCAIN: Oh, Christ, you take the graft too, don’t give me that crap. I’m not the only whore in the Capitol. You’d bend over for ten grand just like I would.

OBAMA: Sure, I suck the same corporate genitalia as you do, but goddamn it, at least I know when to make concessions between what the corporations want and what I give them. It’s like you rich old white men know your days are numbered so you’re looting the place and leaving nothing for us. You took all the money from the middle class—the only idiots without the lawyer power to fight our Byzantine tax structure. Instead of bleeding them slowly, you freakin’ popped their aortas and let all the blood out. AND you ruined it for the rest of us by stealing so obviously your theft could be seen from space. Oh, and by the way, tell your oil buddies, the next time they stage an invasion of another country, make sure they know the history of the place BEFORE they invade. You guys weren’t just greedy, you were more ignorant than a graduate from one of our underfunded public schools.

McCAIN: (eyes unfocussed, gesturing wildly) Look here, you, I paid my dues. You owe me this presidency. I suffered seven f**king years of torture for this country. And you idiots abandoned me and made the mission I suffered for irrelevant. I want payback! You owe me winning in Iraq and you owe me this presidency! It’s mine, you hear me, MINE!!!

OBAMA: (shaking head) John you need therapy, not the presidency.

McCAIN’s head spins around on his shoulders, foam appears on the corners of his mouth.

McCAIN: You’re a pussy! You’re going to get us all killed! Al Qaida is going to kill us all! We need to bomb Iran! You don’t understand! The Russians are going to kill us! The North Koreans are going to kill us! We need to get them before they get us! We need to bomb the hell out of Iraq, then Iran, then Russia, then North Korea! Bomb them, I tell you, bomb them or we’ll never be safe!

OBAMA: (frowning) Now you’re channeling the spirit of Dick Cheney. We don’t need a therapist, we need an exorcist.

LEHRER: Shut the f**k up the both of you. Goddamn, did you even hear my question, Senator Obama? And Senator McCain, put in your damned hearing aids. Hell, you two are so stuck in your rhetoric, you don’t even listen anymore. Let me make myself a bit clearer. How the hell are you going to solve this goddamned financial crisis?

OBAMA: Damn, are all old white men this bitchy? Is this a side effect of Viagra? Look, I don’t know how the hell I’m going to solve this problem, no one does, okay? We’re all bought by the same jerks that just took all the money and created all these scams! We can’t afford to piss them off or we’ll never get the money to pay for the advertising that wins us elections! I mean, this system is hosed. It would take years to untie this financial knot. All we can do is throw some more money at the problem and hope it goes away. What? What do you want to me to say? I’ll sprinkle some fairy dust over the problem and sixty years of greed and corruption will automatically disappear? No. They won’t. We‘re screwed right now and I think everyone knows it.

McCAIN: I can solve the problem! We bomb Iraq! We win in Iraq! Then we bomb Russia! Yeah, Russia! I long for the good old days of the Cold War. Nothing is more fun than hating those f**king commies! We should have kept bombing Viet Nam until nothing was left! They tortured me for seven years! I was in—

OBAMA and McCAIN: —prison for seven years!

LEHRER: That’s enough out of the both of you. Please don’t excite him this much, Senator Obama, his heart can’t take it. While an onstage heart attack would be great for the ratings, we’d have to go off script and that gets messy. Okay, Senator McCain, other than bombing the world, how do you intend to fix the current financial situation?

McCAIN: We bomb Iraq! We win in Iraq! That will boost morale! When I was with General Petraeus, over there in Iraq, I saw how—

LEHRER: I didn’t ask about Iraq, you idiot, I want to know how you’re going to fix the economy.

McCAIN: (calms immediately, seems stunned) The economy is sound. Well, not really. God, I don’t know how to fix the goddamned thing any more than my BLACK opponent does. But I don’t care about that. (waves arms wildly with a crazy look in his eye) I want to win in Iraq! We have to! You owe me! This country owes me!

LEHRER: I’d let you rebut, Senator Obama, but it’s clear you don’t know how to fix the economy, either. Well, folks, God help us all on the economy because neither of these guys has a clue how to fix it. As for me, I wish something could be done about the corruption of our system before we become a Third World country. But by the tone and content of tonight’s debate, that won’t be happening anytime soon. Good night and good luck.

©2008, Janet Periat

Survival Guide To Major (Health) Crises, Part Two

Saturday, September 13th, 2008

My sister moved out of my house this week and my parents went into a retirement home. I cannot grasp the enormity of these events. All I know is that I’m bloody tired.

I took care of my parents for the past twenty years. In late May my sister arrived on my doorstep. “I have a brain tumor.” June 10 she endured eight hours of surgery. June 11 she had a stroke, rendering her unable to speak or move. When she left the hospital and arrived at my house on July 4, she could feed herself but couldn’t brush her teeth or walk. She is now dancing. Literally. Not only that, she is cooking for herself, cleaning her house and caring for her cats and yard. Her speech is lagging some, she has a long road in front of her, but in the end she will be healthy. She’s made a miraculous recovery.

For me, they were the shortest, most intense and worst months of my life to date. Hell one minute. Hope the next. A rollercoaster ride neither my sister nor I want to repeat.

In addition to that atom bomb of health drama, my parents finally realized that being blind and confused without the ability to drive while living out in the middle of nowhere was putting a bit of a damper on their lives. Especially given their best two helpers were out of commission. So they moved in a retirement home in Santa Cruz with their best friends.

Suddenly, all the people I was trying to keep alive are now doing fine without me. Which has left me with a few big questions. Where do I go from here? What are the lessons I learned?

Number One: Worrying Is Stupid. We all know this, but most of us still spend countless units of our personal energy fretting over stupid crap. What has twenty years of worrying about my parents done for me? Earned me some gray hairs and many sleepless nights. Did it help take care of them? Did it help take care of me? No and no. All it did was make me drink more than I should and give me a stomachache. So I’ve decided to fire the Worrier in my head… Or at least give it a good try.

Number Two: Vacations and Breaks From Routine Are Imperative To Good Mental Health. Even in the midst of crises. Three weeks after Judy arrived at my house from the hospital, I was completely crazy. Thankfully, I had a Romance Writer’s of America Conference in San Francisco. The day I packed and left was one of the most insane days at the house. My parents, sister-in-law, niece, sister and caregiver all were having lunch in my kitchen, Judy’s occupational therapist dropped by with her supervisor and I was running around trying to remember what the hell I needed to pack while people bombarded me with questions and demands. By the time I got in the car, I was genuinely concerned for my mental safety. I prayed the hotel didn’t have any issues with my reservation because I’d go nuclear (reservation was fine). After I got into my hotel room, I bought a nine-dollar beer from the mini-bar (probably the best nine bucks I ever spent). Ten minutes after that, surrounded by silence, I finally realized that I was alone. No one was asking me for anything. I started to relax. By the next morning, I felt myself center. I was finally me again. By the time I returned to the house, all the problems that seemed insurmountable were reduced to minor distractions. I had no idea how therapeutic a few days away would be. I was able to handle the rest of Judy’s stay with my head on straight.

Downtime is not a luxury, it is a necessity. And this applies to normal life, not just crises. Without rest and a break from the craziness of life, not only do you end up working too hard for too little results, most of your energy goes to mood control because you’re too tired to distance yourself from problems. Which brings me to Number Three, which is really a part of Two, but it was going on too long…

Number Three: Be Aware Of The Current Work Ethic. Distance yourself from the herd mentality and make sacrifices to get the downtime you need. Or the next downtime you get may be six feet underground. Our current culture is driving everyone into producing more than is humanly possible. Job burnout is at an all-time high. The falling dollar, recession, pressure from Wall Street to earn unreasonable and unsustainable profits is pushing business owners and their employees. For some reason it’s become a badge of honor to work eighty hours a week without vacations. People who get caught up in this dangerous game (including my sister—who was headed for a stroke even without the brain tumor) not only sacrifice their health, they sacrifice their relationships with others. If all your energy is going to your work, it’s not going to your friends and family. And these are the only people who care about you. If you get sick from overwork, is your boss or a customer of yours gonna come by the house and take care of you? No. Take care of yourself, friends and family first, then think about your work. If that’s not possible, get a new job or downsize your business. There are plenty of solutions out there if you have the courage to look.

I will leave you with this last piece of invaluable wisdom from a fortune cookie. The secret to happiness is to count your blessings while others add up their troubles.

There, now I feel better.

©2008, Janet Periat

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