Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Buckle Your Seatbelts

This has been a lively ten days, do you think?  And I'm of course nervous about the immediate future, but feeling really good about this country in general, for the first time in six months.  Because shit's getting real.  And this happened because people made phone calls and showed up and hounded and shamed, and because journalists who were truly asleep at the switch from the primaries through election day are now actually doing journalism. This really is wonderful.

I was 14 years old during Watergate, when my mother had a total breakdown, and my life went off course.  Last weekend was Mother's Day, and I thought a lot about my mother and her mental health issues, and how Watergate was her obsession.  I am reminded of my 14 y.o. self, struggling with being a 14 y.o. girl with braces and glasses and a reputation for being "so smart," and being advised by the nuns that I should consider becoming a nun. I now recognize that as a well-meant recruiting effort, because they were smart women who found an outlet for their skills, in the 70s. At the time was like, "I"m barely a Catholic and I like boys!" "NOOO!" But from decades later, I can respect their advice.  Wasn't going to take it, but I'm not offended now, as an adult looking back decades later. They really were trying to help. But I had an awful, awful adolescence, with a mother with untreated mental illness, a father quietly drinking himself to sleep every evening, and pressure from all sides to be mother to my mother,  support to my father,  start high school, plan my future, and oh yeah, Watergate!!! Good times. I couldn't have friends over, because I never knew, when I got home from school, whether my mother would be up and her functional self or in bed, in a darkened room, crying. Welcome to my teens. So that memory came back to me this Mother's Day, as my mother's mental issues wove into the Watergate saga, which was doled out ever so slowly, in drips and drops from the morning paper and the evening news, until the hearings started, and then they were the sole topic in my house for a year.  I'm not saying Watergate made her crazy, but it sure did give her crazy a place to focus.  She was obsessed, and I lived Watergate when I should have been living my freshman year in a high school I hated, trying to get my parents to pay attention to how hard it all was for me.

So on Mother's Day I found myself wondering how my mother would be dealing with all of this. She was politically aware until she died. She adored Keith Olbermann during the Bush years, and many of our best visits and conversations were about politics, when she was herself.  And I think she'd have been all over Twitter right now, and I'd be exhausted.

And today this really is so much worse than Watergate, but I'm just feeling so much better than I did then. Back in the Watergate era, the gold standard of American political scandals for decades since, the adult voting public (remember, I was 14) were dependent on 3 network channels and a handful of major newspapers. Newspapers actually landed on your doorstep, delivered by a paperboy.  Communication was slower. This shit is moving much faster because media moves faster, and the tools of investigation move faster.  We aren't waiting for Woodward and Bernstein to painstakingly build a story over months, because there are so many sources and faster means of information collection.  Remember, Watergate happened in the time of typewriters, carbon copies, land line phones, and reel-to-reel tapes. (Poor Rosemary Woods.)  The world is much smaller and moves more swiftly now.  Buckle up.  But I'm feeling more secure in the workings of our democracy tonight than I have in weeks. Keep the pressure up. This is moving fast and in a good way.

And I am crocheting that super easy shrug, and taking big breaks from Twitter.   Goddamn, I took a freaking walk the other night for 30 freaking minutes and the Comey paper trail story broke!  I just went for a walk! Give us political junkies a break!!


wednesday said...

The rats are leaving the sinking ship! Even my state's Republican senator, who had a Cheeto colored ring around his nose, is trying to put some ideological distance between himself and the White House.

Wheeee! It's going to be a hoot watching them scramble to try and take back all their campaign rhetoric and convince people they never supported Trump or his policies.

Anonymous said...

Catherine - I have had a strong feeling that we had more in common than was apparent - I was 13 when I realised that my mother (never robust, many health problems) was an alcoholic, and 28 when the alcohol and related dementia finally killed her. At least I had the support of my father and my live-in aunt (Mum's eldest sister). Now I am trying to give my daughter all the support I can, and all the support I didn't get from my mother, as Anne goes through a very difficult time - the end of a 25 year marriage. While she is still living 10 hours away. I don't blame Mum - her childhood was scarred by death and loss from the age of 3, when their mother died in the Spanish Flu epidemic, her middle brother died of head injuries as a teen, and the youngest by spent three and half years as a PoW of the Japanese, and died two weeks before the destruction of Hiroshima. And a much younger half brother was serving with the Pathfinder Squadrons on raids over the most dangerous targets in Europe. Enough to struggle with!
What excuse does the Orange Phenomenon have?

All the best,

Gae, in Callala Bay

Kirsten said...

Everybody got their news from the same sources. In some ways, it was much easier. And yeah. Comey was fired between my leaving work and getting home. Too draining.
I think Nixon resigning was part of my father's final heart attack. And here I am, older than he was, living on line. Scary.

Catherine said...

Gae, I've had people tell me I should write a book, but honestly, I don't think anyone would buy it. It's too disjointed and weird to be real.